By Sheldon Bramble
Carpenters, electricians, masons, plumbers, joiners, and landscapers are among the many self-employed skilled workers in SVG who offer valuable services.
Vincentians value having a comfortable dwelling and our houses are boasted of as some of the best in the Caribbean. Standards of quality are judged against durability and strength, given that we live in a hurricane prone region and we typically rather own a properly constructed home than live in a rented one. This and the recent volcanic eruption have created a lot more demand for the services of skilled workers here and the hardware supplying businesses have been expanding to meet the demands and provide more variety and options for home owners. One thing is for sure. Our skilled workers are not properly meeting the demands of our paying public.
Booking someone who is reliable, dependable, responsible, courteous, responsive and respectful to scheduling and their clients however, seems almost non-existent in SVG these days.
Here are some of the problems Vincentians typically face with some of these skilled workers:
- Arriving on the job later or leaving early, but demanding pay for a full day’s work.
- Not showing up whatsoever to honour an appointment agreed on with a client and not calling to inform them.
- Not informing clients of a window of time for arrival for small jobs.
- Non-communication — ignoring phone calls and texts
- Overcharging for jobs.
- Breaking client’s hardware, but making them pay to replace it.
- Not taking responsibility for errors on the job.
- Being lazy and dragging their feet to prolong the time they want to bill the client for.
One wants to ask the question, besides almighty God, who are many of our workers accountable to in SVG? Are there any regulations to curb this abuse which we find so common? This form of injustice adds to the “dumbing down” of the work ethic in SVG which is already so lame and problematic in a country which boasts of late educational achievements and opportunities and “cosmetic professionalism”.
These skilled workers seldom organise their tasks or schedules in writing for themselves or clients. They seldom have anyone else taking calls for them or making notes. Thus, they are extremely taxed, forgetful, disorganised and because often they want to keep all the payment to themselves, do not hire anyone to assist. The result is, again, more frustration and inconvenience to the client.
A job that could take half day might be cancelled multiple times and may not materialise for months after an agreed date with a client. Skilled workers lie by not saying no as they want the job and, technically, will lead a client to believe it is scheduled while fully well knowing they will be busy elsewhere.
Then there is the matter of the attitude that everyone is successful if they work for themselves. Everyone in the building industry wants to aspire be a contractor or pose as one. If we are to move forward with efficiency and honesty, skilled workers need to at times work as teams and alongside each other with focus on delivering quality service to clients and do so after making mutual pre-agreements to protect trust and fairness.
Does our Bureau of Standards have any guidelines for these workers? Are there any plans to have written contracts in place for our independent skilled workers or some form of accountability in order to ensure the rights of clients and a lifting of the game among skilled workers in SVG?
What has been your personal story? Where is the outcry about workers who are good and reliable and the ones who are operating like con artists and with dishonest greed.
There is a way which business is being more defined in SVG in recent times. Rip-offs and quick cash from seeming well to do citizens and foreigners seems to be justified as good business. With the encouragement of the creation of more small independent businesses here, I am calling on those in authority to set up guidelines and protect the rights and justice of homeowners and clients employing skilled workers in SVG. We are becoming more corrupt by the day when it comes to money matter honesty is still the best policy. However, enforcing honesty is even a better policy. Its maybe the “besiss” one!
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].