Overseas Workers – Not the Panacea

Go Lean Commentary

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This question is usually asked of young ones while they are still fostering their development. This question normally reflects the role models that the young ones perceive.

A similar exercise can be applied to developing countries. So we ask the question of the developing Caribbean nations:

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Who is your role model?
  • Which country’s template do you want to consider?

The easy answers could be the US, the EU or Canada, but our practices belie a different role model. Our region seems to be copying North Korea. There is a jobs program that exists in our region that is 100% modeled on North Korea; it is their Overseas Worker program. See more details on the North Korean program here:

Estimates of the number of North Koreans overseas vary considerably. Some researchers, as well as a 2015 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights, cite roughly 50,000 overseas workers. Other analysts have given larger estimates, ranging as high as 120,000 overseas workers. A fact sheet published by the U.S. Mission to the UN in 2017 cites 100,000 overseas workers, bringing in revenue of over $500 million annually.

The reason for this variation hinges mostly on the difficulty of estimating the number of North Korean workers in China. The number of North Koreans legally entering China has increased significantly in recent years, with over 188,000 reported entrants in 2015, including 94,000 entrants identified as “workers and crew”. This may be connected to a reported2012 informal agreement between Beijing and Pyongyang allowing for an increased number of North Koreans to work in China. However, data on the number of reported entrants does not necessarily reflect the total number of North Korean workers in China. On the one hand, some North Korean workers may have been placed in entry categories other than “workers and crew,” and workers might stay longer than one-year periods. One the other hand, it is not clear whether the “worker and crew” category includes transportation workers who may enter China on a routine basis for very short terms, or how often North Korean workers (particularly those stationed in the border area) travel back and forth across the border — in either case, any given worker would be counted as an “entrant” multiple times in a single year.

Successive UN Security Council resolutions have imposed progressively stronger sanctions on the employment of North Korean overseas laborers. The most recent, Resolution 2397 adopted in December 2017, requires member states to repatriate all DPRK nationals earning income in their territory within 24 months.

North Korea’s overseas workers are typically closely managed by DPRK state-run enterprises, which contract with foreign partners to provide labor. While conditions may vary from place to place, human rights advocates note that North Korean overseas workers often labor under intense conditions, face restrictions on their movements, and keep little of their wages. Other analysts argue that work abroad nonetheless provides North Koreans with the opportunity to earn more money than they could at home, and that foreign work is often seen as desirable within North Korea.

While it appears that the majority of state-organized North Korean overseas workers are men, women comprise a majority of the undocumented North Koreans living in China. Due to their vulnerable status, undocumented North Korean women are often subject to sex trafficking or forced marriage.

Source: Retrieved May 23, 2018 from: https://www.northkoreaintheworld.org/economic/north-korean-overseas-workers

Overseas Workers?! There are so many dangers; so many threats; and so many downsides that no government should be encouraging this role model – the North Korean model – for any country. India – see Appendix B – had bad experiences with this practice and have now added new empowerments to better protect its people from the dangers of overseas employment. Yet, our Caribbean member-states seem to be “cruising for a bruising” by inviting their own overseas workers programme. Is this who we want to be when we grow up?


Now see this news article here, reflecting the demand for overseas employment in one Caribbean member-state. The demand is so high that the abuse has begun; see the article here:

Title: St Lucia warns of false advertisements for Canadian farm worker programme

CASTRIESThe St Lucia government has warned of “false advertisements” in circulation on the social media and other platforms indicating that the Labour Department here is now accepting applications from nationals for work under the Canadian Farm Worker Programme.

In a statement, the Labour Department said that it has “been swamped with scores of citizens in recent days seeking to register in response to the false notice”.

“Citizens are informed that the Department of Labour is currently not in the process of accepting new applicants to the programme. The department currently has a database of over five hundred citizens registered for the programme. This database is the first point for consideration in the event new opportunities become available,” the Ministry of Labour said in the statement.

St Lucia is among a number of Caribbean countries whose nationals participate in the annual work programme in Canada and the statement quoted Labour Minister Stephenson King as saying that he is “working feverishly with existing and prospective employers for additional opportunities for St Lucians”.

The Department said it also wanted to take the opportunity “to thank employers and all citizens for continuous support,” adding “rest assured we will continue working for you”. (CMC)
Source: Posted May 20, 2018; retrieved May 23, 2018 from: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/159035/st-lucia-warns-false-advertisements-canadian-farm-worker-programme

So according to the foregoing – “St Lucia is among a number of Caribbean countries whose nationals participate in the annual work programme in Canada” – when the question is asked: Where are the jobs in the Caribbean? The answer in St. Lucia and these other Caribbean countries is:


Commentators conclude that North Korea is Hell on Earth! See the related story in the Appendix VIDEO. We must do better than copying their economic model!

The book Go Lean…Caribbean – available to download for free – serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. Our quest is to do better for Caribbean jobs; in fact the CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

Overseas jobs in Canada is not the panacea for what ails the Caribbean economically. Rather than look to Canada, we must look inwardly at our region so as to fix our broken local economic engines, not just look “across the waters” for others to solve our problems for us.

The book stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean economic engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 14):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxvi. Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries, like that of ship-building, automobile manufacturing, prefabricated housing, frozen foods, pipelines, call centers, and the prison industrial complex. In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism, fisheries and lotteries – impacting the region with more jobs.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the economic engines of Caribbean society. Just “how” can the stewards for a new Caribbean create local “innovative” jobs in our region? This is the actual title of one advocacy in the Go Lean book. Consider the specific plans, excerpts and headlines here from Page 152, entitled:

10 Ways to Create Jobs … in the Caribbean Region

1 Lean-in for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy
The CU will allow for the unification of the region into one market, thereby creating a single economy of 30 member- states, 42 million people and a GDP of over $800 Billion. The CU’s mission is to create high-paying jobs for the region, beyond the minimum wage (defined below). Many high-wage industries would be promoted, incentivized and regulated at the federal level, even new industries created. Jobs come from trade; the CU goal is to improve trade. The CU will thus institute Enterprise Zones and Empowerment Zones – SGE’s – with tax benefits: rebates, abatements – as job creation pockets. The CU will capture data, micro and macro-economic metrics, to measure the success/failure of these initiatives.
2 Feed Ourselves
The industries of agri-business allow structured commercial systems to grow, harvest and trade in food supplies. Many of the Caribbean member states (Lesser Antilles) acquire all their food in trade, the agricultural footprint is very small, though some countries (Greater Antilles, Belize, Guyana & Suriname) have a low opportunity cost for producing food. But with the Trade Federation in force, intra-region trade will be the first priority. When the demand is qualified, quantified and assured, the supply and quality there in, will catch up.
3 Clothe Ourselves
4 House Ourselves
In the US, it’s a truism of the National Association of Realtors® that “housing creates jobs”. With the repatriation of the Caribbean Diaspora, local building supplies and new “housing starts” will emerge in the Caribbean. Plus, the CU will facilitate mortgage secondary market and pre-fabulous construction thereby fostering new housing sub-industries.
5 Update Our Own Infrastructure and the Industries They Spun

Roads, bridges, ports, ship-building dry-docks, utilities and media outlets create companies and jobs for implementation and maintenance. Many of the infrastructure projects will cover the transportation sector; with improvements here, the result will be more traffic (passenger & cargo). This opens new modes for travelers/visitors/tourists to come to their favorite resort destination. (Consider Fast Ferries boats and Spring Break). Also, the CU will correct the void of no auto manufacturing industry in the Caribbean region, despite a market of 42 million people.

6 Steer More People to S.T.E.M. Education and Careers
7 Help Regional Businesses Find Foreign Markets
8 Welcome Home Emigrants
9 Welcome “Empowering” Immigrants
10 Draw More Tourists
The North American upper-middle-class market should not be the only target, better infrastructure and promotion can channel more tourists to the region. There can be a year round improvement in tourist arrivals, rather than just the “high” season. The CU will promote events with wide appeal to attract more tourists from around the world, year-round. The facilitation, support and promotion of the events will create multitudes of jobs, if only temporary.

Once these new “innovative” local direct jobs are created, then the job multiplier factor is engaged. The Go Lean book (Page 259) describes this factor and effect as follows:

… not only do innovative industries bring “good jobs” and high salaries to the communities where they cluster but that their impact is “much deeper” than their direct effect. … A healthy traded sector benefits the local economy directly, as it generates well-paid jobs, and indirectly as it creates additional jobs in the non-traded sector. What is truly remarkable is that this indirect effect to the local economy is much larger than the direct effect.

The subject of overseas jobs in Canada have been visited before. There was a previous blog-commentary from January 8, 2015 that detailed the experience for Jamaica; this previous study is one reason why we are able to conclude that this type of employment program, overseas, is not the panacea:

Jamaica has one of the highest rates of societal abandonment in the Caribbean. In a previous blog-commentary, it was revealed that the Caribbean loses more than 70 percent of tertiary educated to brain drain, but Jamaica’s rate is at 85%; (plus 35% of the secondary educated population leaves). This Foreign Guest Worker program, in the foregoing article, seems to be a “double down” on the itinerant Jamaican strategy. Imagine the analogy of a teenage runaway leaving his family behind; then when the parents finally discover that prodigal’s son’s whereabouts, they send another child to join them, rather than encourage a return home and a plea to prosper and be planted at home.

The people of Jamaica deserves better.

The people of the Caribbean deserves better. We do not have to repeat the same mistakes as India, North Korea or other Caribbean states; we can … and must do better. We must create local jobs. This is conceivable, believable and achievable. Yes, we can make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix A VIDEO – North Korea Literal Hell On Earth – https://youtu.be/DGA0_4pyOrw

Paulraj P.


Listen to Yeonmi Park , escaped from North Korea and now a human right activist, who like any other North Koreans  was once forced to  collect  human and animal poo for the government ,  knew about love for the first time, only after watching “Titanic”,  speaking  in One Young World Summit in Dublin. Keep tissues.


Appendix B – India’s Overseas Workers Passport – Emigration Act, 1983

The Emigration Act, 1983 is an Act passed by the Government of India to regulate emigration of people from India, with the stated goal of reducing fraud or exploitation of Indian workers recruited to work overseas. The Act imposed a requirement of obtaining emigration clearance (also called POE clearance) from the office of Protector of Emigrants (POE), Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs for people emigrating from India for work. As of 2017, this requirement applies only for people going to one of 18 listed countries.[1][2][3][4]


Indians emigrated, both temporarily and permanently, to a number of countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the economies of south-east Asia. The bulk of emigration from the 1970s onward was to the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[3] Recruiting agents played a role in connecting workers to foreign jobs and charged the workers or the employers some share of the revenue. The Emigration Act, 1983 was passed to address concerns related to defrauding and exploitation of workers by the recruiting agents and other problems they might face upon going abroad.[3]


Creation of the Office of Protector of Emigrants (Chapter II)

Chapter II, Section 3 of the Act provided that the Central Government may appoint a Protector General of Emigrants and as many Protectors of Emigrants (POE) as it sees fit, as well as their respective areas of operation. Later Sections of Chapter II defined the duties of Protectors of Emigrants in more detail, provided for emigration check-points, and provided for other emigration officers.[2][3]

Registration of recruiting agents (Chapter III)

The Act made the Protector General of Emigrants and other Protectors of Emigrants the authorities who could register recruiting agents. A person could operate as a recruiting agent for emigrants only if registered. The Act also provided details on the application, terms and conditions, renewal, and cancellation of registration.[2][3]

Permits for recruitment by employers (Chapter IV)

All employers were required to recruit either through a recruiting agent with a valid registration, or obtain a permit for recruitment. The procedure for obtaining, validity period, and cancellation of permits was detailed in the law.[2]

Emigration clearance (Chapter V)

Any citizen of India seeking to emigrate was required to have emigration clearance from the Protectorate of Emigrants (POE). The application process for emigration clearance, and potential grounds for rejection, were detailed.[2]

As of 2017, passport holders could either have ECR status (emigration check required) in which case they need to obtain emigration clearance, or have ECNR status (emigration check not required) in which case they do not need to obtain emigration clearance.[3] The ECR/ECNR distinction does not appear to have been stated in the original language of the Emigration Act, 1983, which seems to suggest that anybody emigrating for work is required to obtain emigration clearance.[2] The requirements for getting to ECNR status have been progressively relaxed over time, starting from being restricted to people such as graduates and income tax payers and now applying to a much wider set of people including those who have completed matriculation (class 10 of school).[5][6]

Source: Retrieved May 23, 2018 from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emigration_Act,_1983

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