Jamaica State Overview


Jamaica belongs to the British Commonwealth and the population is dominated by slave descendants. The country’s economy has been built around agriculture, mainly sugar plantations, but in recent decades tourism has become an increasingly important source of income along with money that Jamaicans abroad send home. Following a deep economic crisis in 2013, extensive reforms have reversed this trend and unemployment has been halved, but the informal sector remains widespread. About one fifth of the workforce is organized in trade unions.

Country Facts

State condition: Parliamentary monarchy

Surface: 10,991 km2

Capital: Kingston

Language: English

Labor market and economy:

Jamaica’s economy is basically based on four industries – mining, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture. Exports are dominated by the mining industry, where bauxite and aluminum account for around 60 percent of the value. Tourism employs about a quarter of all people employed, but about half of the able-bodied population is estimated to work in the informal sector. The country has been deeply indebted and dependent on international support from the IMF.


The labor market laws prescribe freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Collective bargaining requires that the union represents at least 40 percent of the employees or receives at least 50 percent of the votes from all employees. It is common for companies in the free zones to threaten employees and create their own “employee councils” that are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining. As a result, there is not yet a single union in any free zone.


Jamaican politics has been dominated since the 1940’s by two major parties: the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), which despite its name is a right-wing party, and the Social Democratic People’s Party (PNP). The JLP was formed as a political branch of the trade union movement Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the ties between the two are still strong. PNP works closely with the National Workers’ Union (NWU). About 20 percent of employees are organized and together the two largest unions BITU and NWU are part of the central organization Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU).┬áVisit themakeupexplorer for Trade Unions in Caribbean.

Jamaica State Overview

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