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Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle

2/22/2008

The Productivity of Jamaican Workers

A colleague of mine recently shared with me that foreign executives and project managers in the bauxite industry use a factor of 2 to 2.5 when estimating how much labour it takes to get a job done.

In other words, in Jamaica it takes more than twice the same number of man-hours to do the same work as elsewhere, and I imagine that this is referring to mostly manual labour rather than knowledge work.

If true, this is a pretty startling statistic, but it starts to explain why prices here in Jamaica seem to be high for no reason at times. I do know that security costs make up a higher percentage of total costs than in other countries, which makes sense given our high crime rates. That much is plain to see.

What's not so obvious to see is that we are often using more than twice the workforce needed.

Apparently, the Chinese workers that were here for the World Cup put our own labourers to shame, and in the garment industry in particular, they have shown that they, as it was said "can do de work of two s'maddy" (2 people that is).

I guess the colloquial wisdom in this case matches the actual measurements of bauxite-industry managers...

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