Hotelier and former president of the St. Ann Chamber of Commerce, Joe Issa, is urging craft vendors to stand-up and fight for their rights, but to do so in a professional manner.
Mr. Issa, who was invited by the vendors to address their press conference at Dunn’s River Craft Market on Tuesday, agreed that the complaints have been ignored for too long, and said it was time these concerns be given some attention from those in authority.
“We cannot have one of the major sectors of our tourist industry crying out for help for so long without getting any attention,” he stated.
Mr. Issa, who is also executive vice-president of SuperClubs Resort, said major hotels, including Super Clubs properties, have been doing a lot to assist craft vendors in earning an income, but said the matted was really one for the authorities to address.
At Tuesday’s press conference, which the craft vendors described as historic, being the first time all of the island’s craft markets have been so strongly represented, a six-point ultimatum was served on the leadership of the four major political parties, who are preparing to contest the upcoming general election.
The ultimatum called on the political leaders to sign a letter of commitment to address six critical areas of concern affecting the craft sector within one year after the election, and that failure by any party to sign the agreement with result in their boycotting candidate of that party during the election.
Issa was invited to the press conference to speak about his own initiative, which has received strong support from the vendors and several other organizations, including the island’s Chambers of Commerce.
He advised them that street protests were not necessarily the best way to make their voices heard and congratulated them for acting responsibly. Meanwhile, president of the All Island Craft Traders Association, Mildred McCalla, said the association was heartened by the publication of the Joe Issa initiative, which called on politicians to be more accountable to their constituents, and said that this was what prompted the craft traders to send an ultimatum to the political parties to be more accountable to that sector.
The Issa Initiative calls on political representatives to enter a covenant with their constituents where, if elected they would address two of the most critical issues facing the constituency within a specific time.
However, despite Mr. Issa’s advice that the craft traders should refrain from disrupting the tourist industry, some vowed to do all within their powers to get a positive response from those in authority.
Adviser to the Craft Traders Association, Michael Sterling, aid since September 11 last year, the craft industry took a nosedive, and that while other sections of the industry was steadily recovering as a result of government support, the craft traders have been left on their own and are been made to suffer without any form of business at the craft market.
Source: The Gleaner