This is great news about private sector support for an often overlooked and ignored, but very important section of our workforce. However, our domestic workers have a champion. Ms. Shirley Pryce is an amazing woman, who has fought for decades on behalf of domestic workers in Jamaica and the Caribbean. A founding member of the Jamaica Household Workers’ Union, she has a tremendous spirit and “can-do” approach to life. Just last year, she obtained her Masters in Labour Law from Penn State University. Ms. Pryce also worked with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to assist in the development of Convention 189 on domestic workers’ rights; we look forward to the Government’s swift ratification of the Convention, as promised by Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the event described in the press release below.The Convention on Domestic Workers, formally the Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, was adopted during the 100th session of the ILO in Geneva in 2011, and entered into force in September 2013.
Kingston, Jamaica – July 1, 2016: The role of household workers and their contribution to national development was celebrated at the GraceKennedy Heather Little-White Household Worker Championships held on Thursday, June 30 at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel, with special attention being given to the males who work in this profession. In the male category, Michael Lawson copped the top prize while Denham Coke was his runner up. In the female category, Millicent Clunis was awarded top prize and second place went to Elizabeth Watson Warren.
The pride felt by GraceKennedy Group CEO, Don Wehby at the event’s third staging was evident. “We are a company that cares,” he said. “Too often we forget to show this special, hardworking group of Jamaicans that we are grateful to them for what they do for us, and GraceKennedy is happy to be able to bring them the recognition they deserve, and reward them for their hard work.”
The Most Honourable Prime Minister Andrew Holness delivered an inspiring keynote address, in which he lauded the work of household workers and urged Jamaicans to give them the respect that they deserve. “We must recognise the work of our household workers as a profession. Your service cannot be replicated or replaced,” he stated. The Prime Minister also commended the males who serve as role models and embraced their profession with dignity and purpose.
Both Clunis and Lawson won cash prizes of $300,000 each from GraceKennedy, an account with $30,000 from First Global Bank and a $25,000 gift voucher from Hi-Lo Food Stores, and will receive financial assistance for a secondary school student for a year to the tune of $100,000. Runner-up winners, Watson Warren and Coke, received $200,000 from GK, an account with $20,000 from First Global Bank and a $15,000 gift voucher from Hi-Lo Food Stores.
Shirley Pryce, OD, MSc, was also given a special award for her sterling contribution to the development of the profession. For the past 25 years, Pryce has fought for the rights of domestic workers in Jamaica and the Caribbean. In receiving her award, Pryce acknowledged the role played by Heather Little-White in inspiring her to dedicate her time to this cause.
The Judging Panel comprising Head of the Jamaica Household Workers’ Union, Shirley Pryce; PROComm Managing Director, Jean Lowrie-Chin; Grace Foods Consultant and retired Executive Chef Mazie Miller; Gender Specialist Dr Glenda Simms; retired GraceKennedy Board Director, Anthony Lawrence and Frances Madden, Consultant to Grace and Staff Foundation were tasked to choose the top eight finalists – four males and four females. They were very impressed with the confidence, poise and professionalism of the finalists, stating that it was indeed challenging to choose a winner. They were especially impressed with the males who were also dedicated to the profession.
The judges were quick to commend the finalists who didn’t make the top four – Cherrilene Case, Elaine Thompson, Earnestar Smith and Herman Williams.
The GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker Award was inaugurated in 2014 to recognize and reward Jamaica’s Household Workers. It is presented in honour of Dr Little-White due to her years of service at GraceKennedy and her training of Household Workers, and her dedication to the improvement of their skills and their lives.