08 Mar 2018

Putting Bermudians First Is Top Priority

Minister of Home Affairs, Walton Brown, last evening at the House of Assembly spoke to TNN in reference to Immigration issues and policies that he has been challenged by. It has been brought to TNN’s attention that some of the workers currently employed at the St. Regis Hotel development in St. Georges are unable to speak English.

Minister Brown elaborated on the fact that this is just one of many issues inherited from the previous government administration by stating, “In all matters we look at issues and see what we can change, do better and improve the working opportunities for Bermudians. With regards to the St. Regis Hotel development, this was an existing agreement that I inherited. We are monitoring it very carefully and closely. They do have the right under the existing agreement to bring in a certain number of work permit holders, I believe the number to be 77.

“Some of them will not speak any English at all because the company is a Venezuelan company and they will hire their nationals. The will be speaking Spanish under a Spanish speaking foreperson.”

The question posed next to Minister Brown referenced the wages of the non-English speaking workers and whether or not they would receive a fair wage whilst working here in Bermuda. Reference was given to the Guatemalan workers, that were previously featured on TNN, for the unfair wages and treatment they received whilst under the management of a foreign company in order to carry out work here in Bermuda.

Minister Brown commented “One of the directives that I did give to the Department of Immigration Staff was that for each and every work permit to be considered we need to ensure that those persons are getting paid at a level that will commensurate a respectable salary here in Bermuda. We have had incidents of persons that have been offered a very low salary and we do not approve those work permits when we get that information.”

TNN asked the Minister as to whether there were any policies that would have to be overturned moving forward to which he responded “There are always things that can be done better. There are some policies that were just fundamentally inappropriate for a labour government to support, so we have made adjustments immediately. One of course was the immigration police check requirement and the other was to work much more closely with the Bermuda Entertainments Union to ensure their rights are properly protected.

“We are looking at some labour legislations designed to stem out a great deal more discrimination and oppressive policies within the work place. We have a guest speaker coming in next week, Minna Salami to talk about some issues.

“We are working very hard to bring about a new legislation regarding PRC’s and Bermuda Status to normalize some of the relations of young people who find themselves in difficult circumstances. We are looking to protect open space permanently through legislation as opposed to ministerial discretion.

“There is a lot on my plate and I take the work very seriously. I think we have a great opportunity to do a lot of good. There is no doubt that our election campaign was to put Bermudians first. It is a shame that we had to make that campaign because every single political party should want to put its nationals first but we had to say it because there was a back drop with the previous government that had no regard for putting Bermudians first. You shouldn’t have to say it, it should be the normal course of action but we assert that and we will deliver on that. There may be some issues that people are concerned about and we will have tough decisions to make but the overall frame work that we are working within is to show that Bermudians do have good opportunities in their country.”

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Read 353 times Last modified on Thursday, 08 March 2018 20:41
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