Oh to be a window wiper…

I am pleased that the windscreen wipers have been legitimized. Now so many Jamaicans will want to join the cadre of strongmen who provide well needed, if not always welcome services to dirty car-owners

. wiper

Work is work. The international Labour Organization says so.  I am not questioning the worth, input or output of the members of the car cleaning sub-sector of the automobile industry – that surely must include sales and repair given the increasing number of cars on the road… and potholes and road work that make them necessary.  Demand and supply, products and services.  This is a market economy… find your niche! Legitimization is the order of the day in this neoliberal economy.  So, welcome to the workforce gentlemen… you have been trodding on the winepress for decades but now you are legit! STATIN say so!

JIS tells us that the Director General, Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Carol Coy, has announced that in January 2019, Jamaica achieved a new record-low unemployment rate of eight per cent.

“After record-low unemployment rates of 8.4 per cent in July and 8.7 per cent in October 2018, the unemployment in January 2019 declined to a new low of eight per cent. This was a reduction of 1.6 percentage points relative to 9.6 per cent in January 2018,” Ms. Coy said.   “The occupations with the largest increases were clerks, professionals, senior officials and technicians and elementary occupations. The increased employment in the occupation group ‘clerks’ was mainly females, aged 20 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years. This group includes occupations such as customer service clerks working as hotel receptionists, survey and market research interviewers, telephone and switchboard operators, contact centre information clerks, bank tellers and travel consultants,” Ms. Coy explained.

The group “professionals, senior officials and technicians” is a combination of three occupational groups and includes physical and engineering science technicians; mining, manufacturing and construction supervisors; process control technicians; medical and pharmaceutical technicians; and nurses and midwives.   The group “elementary occupations” includes car washers, street vendors and housekeepers in hotels.

Will the Creatives Please Stand Up

So now I am raising my hands for creative workers… can you count us please? Not ‘less count’ but real count. Are we in your numbers? Is our hustle less significant than any other hustle? Is it because we enjoy what we do? Is it because recreation is not work and leisure is surely play?

I ask because in 2015 the Interministerial Technical Working Group  on Cultural and Creative Industries engineered (deliberate choice of word) to have the creation of a satellite account for cultural and creative industries added to the goals of the medium term strategic framework of VISION 2030.  Like the Tourism Satellite Account and others.  This account would quantify the output of the CCI. It still has not been done, nor have the policy or strategic plan been completed and published in almost four years. Cultural and Creative Industries exist only in our minds. How then can creative workers believe themselves/ourselves ‘legitimate’. Do you?

I also ask because in checking the objectives of the National Growth Council, Cultural and Creative Industries are not there. Narry a mention.  Not even the mention of emerging, technology and knowledge based sectors.  Well, so now we know it… there is no formal policy, no holistic plan, no specific programme for the holistic development of cultural and creative industries, is there an account though which its growth and output can be measured that is not kinda hitched on to other sectors?  No?  Oh, does that mean then that it isn’t really a real thing… yet?  So when?


The third reason I ask is because now that the unemployment figures are trending down – with all the increased in training, and the obvious growth in the entertainment sector, I am asking it as a question… isn’t it time for us to get our own account?

I ask for:

  • the ‘box boys’ with the sound systems who lift speaker boxes three times their weight and the flag wavers and entourage members who add value through the provision of security and empowerment;
  • the selectors and the dancers; the sound engineers and the guys who run the cables at the big stage shows and film sets.
  • the painters and the sculptors who have sidewalks for their galleries.
  • the video man or photographer who shoots the wedding or funeral and the editor who cuts it up in their backroom so you can smile at your sweet selves on your screens.
  • the independent authors who send their manuscripts to India to be self published and end up on Amazon, bypassing the local bureaucracy.
  • the coaches and empowerment speakers…
  • the digital hustlers…who do the graphic arts and the app development and maybe even a little scamming on the side…
  • the PR people who never took a PR class in their lives or even apprenticed with a master… who now do the publicity and management for emerging cultural and creative sectors that exist in our minds  but not on our books.

I am asking for us.. all of us.

I am asking because many of us don’t really want to be hustlers. We want to be able to make enough money to live as well as pay taxes. We want to be able to access the loans of financing. We want to do business with big companies and get on the ‘lists’. We want to feel welcome in the ‘private sector’. We would welcome the enabling environment but are tired of waiting so instead we are working working working.

Until then, can anyone send me the number for the Window Wipers Association of Jamaica? I want them to teach the creative how to come together  to mobilize groups of professionals to be counted.  Because that too is part of the problem… we have not organized ourselves.

Wordprss JA Culturetrod

Published by DHG Consults || Deborah Hickling Gordon, Ph.D

Dr. Deborah Hickling Gordon is a communication and culture-in-development strategist and commentator, advocate and trainer, who provides bridging and advocacy consulting services across public, corporate and creative sectors. Deborah designs and manages projects and programmes that apply cultural economy and integrated communication strategies to achieve sustainable development goals in the global South. Deborah is also a Lecturer in Cultural Studies and Cultural Economy in the Institute of Caribbean Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona; and coordinates the B.A. In Cultural and Creative Industries.

2 thoughts on “Oh to be a window wiper…

  1. Correction needed? ‘… now that the unemployment figures are trending up…’ (employment?).

    STATIN data published don’t cover creative workers as an identifiable sector/industry group but are they really usefully categorized in some quasi-homogenous way? The published data set by occupation groups are similarly limited. But, do we doubt that the bulk of such workers are covered, and if a more-detailed breakdown were requested it couldn’t be met? Most macroeconomic data sets have high degrees of granularity and it’s more a question of how one can get to that, as needed. STATIN doesn’t appear to offer online interactive queries of their data, but I’d be surprised if they couldn’t supply greater detail, if requested (hopefully, without something heavy handed like an ATI request).


  2. Which is why I spoke to a satellite account… some are counted somewhere in the Tourism satellite account mostly…. others spread across the entire economy (where they are counted at all). The ones I mentioned, I would be interested to see what category of worker they fall into, hence “hitched on to other sectors”.

    However there is no means to (dis)aggregate them into a uniform group for the cultural and creative sector. This was meant to happen four years ago. In a modern society, this needs to be fast tracked.

    Thank you for the initial correction.



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