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Locals sidelined for jobs even after understudying expats - Hon Flax-Charles

- 1000 work permits already issued for 2019
According to a report on the deliberations of the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) 2019, released on Friday, May 7, 2019, Junior Minister for Tourism, Hon Shereen D. Flax-Charles (AL) has echoed concerns over the growing number of permits being issued. Photo: Facebook
During the Fourth Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) on June 3, 2019, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley—whose portfolio oversees the labour market—had pointed to economic growth as the reason for the increase in work permits being issued in the territory. Photo: VINO/File
During the Fourth Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) on June 3, 2019, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley—whose portfolio oversees the labour market—had pointed to economic growth as the reason for the increase in work permits being issued in the territory. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – With Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) recently revealing that the Virgin Islands (VI) has processed thousands of work permits so far for 2019, concerns are being raised over the state of the job market for locals.

During the Fourth Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) on June 3, 2019, Hon Wheatley—whose portfolio oversees the labour market—had pointed to economic growth as the reason for the increase in work permits in the territory.

However, while he described the numbers as ‘alarming’, one minister appears to be sharing a similar view by raising the issue of local companies side-lining locals from the local job market.

Locals side-lined– Hon Flax-Charles 

According to a report on the deliberations of the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) 2019, released on Friday, May 7, 2019, Junior Minister for Tourism Hon Shereen D. Flax-Charles (AL) echoed concerns over the growing number of permits being issued.

The report states, “The Junior Minister for Tourism and Territorial Member expressed her concerns about Virgin Islanders understudying expatriates but the companies keep getting two and three work permits for individuals from overseas for the same job the locals were understudying for.”

Hon Flax-Charles further inquired if there were any laws in the Labour Code that protect locals in this matter. Hon Wheatley had told the HoA that in the first four months of 2019, the territory issued one thousand new work permits and renewed over one thousand.

Ms Janice I. F. Rymer, Labour Commissioner (LC), Labour Department (LC) in response to Hon Flax-Charles had indicated that there is protection in the Labour Code for Virgin Islanders, from losing jobs, however, for locals to still be side-lined it does not appear the protection in being enforced.

Understudying Expats work - Ms Rymer

With immigration reform still a hot topic, Virgin Islanders have been calling for greater protection of basic rights in the territory.

While no statistics were provided, the Labour Commissioner also indicated, even amidst the growing concern, that pairing locals with expats was effective in development planning. This scenario is also being practised in agencies like the controversial VI Recovery and Development Agency (RDA).

Mr Rymer also indicated that as part of tackling the issue of providing more jobs, the Labour Department has an 'Employment Service Unit' which will be renamed to Workforce Development Unit with a focus on job seekers and providing training for job seekers in areas of interest from potential employers.

14 Responses to “Locals sidelined for jobs even after understudying expats - Hon Flax-Charles”

  • DON Q (13/06/2019, 15:00) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    This is nothing new!
  • legal team belong to the VI (13/06/2019, 17:27) Like (20) Dislike (4) Reply
    Greetings,Locals?
    Politicians and other persons in authority must be more explicit when the word ["LOCAL"] is being or has been used to describe a certain class of person under the VI Constitution residing in the BVI locally.
    But we all know that in layman terms, a " local" is a 'person born in the bvi from a mother or father or both parents who belong to the virgin islands. [AH BORN HERE] indigenous person.
    The VI Constitution is the instrument for social guidance.
    However, as a person who believe in the teachings of the VI Constitution re-enacted in 2007 when fundamental human rights and freedoms were written for the first time in the BVI and accordingly, we as a people must accept the written introductory clause in the VI Constitution, which states as follow:-
    ["Acknowledging that the society of the VI is based upon certain moral, spiritual and democratic values including a belief in God, the dignity of the human person, the freedom of the individual and respect for FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS and the rule of law"].How many people in the BVI respect each others fundamental human rights?
    The only rights that a "local" has more than an expat, in the BVI is the right to vote in a general election and the right of [cannot be deported]
    I expect politicians to look out for "locals"because its only "local and -belongers" who can vote:
    But the VI Constitution declared that "every person IN the VI is protected by ALL the Fundamental Human Rights and freeedoms guaranteed under the constitution of 2007. The words "local" and "indiginous"are not written in the interpretation of the VI Constitution;therefore our elected reps should not used these words in the HOA to define [who belong to the VI]. Citizenship is now extended to great grand children of born bvislanders, born outside the BVI.
    Every employer in the BVI must protect his/her business interest.
    Therefore if a "local" and an expat apply for the same job and both have the same academic qualification etc,on principle and for quicker administrative facilitation, the "local" should get the job.[no work permit]
    But if the "local" is not qualified but the expat is, shouldn't the employer employ the more qualified person?
    The minister needs to produce the evidence to show that qualified "locals" were denied employment.
    In such a case, that would be "discrimination" against the "local".

  • Challenger (13/06/2019, 17:39) Like (12) Dislike (12) Reply
    RDA ?? there are many MANY belongers here more than qualified to hold the top jobs at the RDA....but no one gets a look in. its a closed book old boys network. Premier...you need to step in and get involved.....
  • OK Then (13/06/2019, 23:27) Like (17) Dislike (17) Reply
    We the "Expats" voted unanimously to put her in the house. Ah tell ayo ah din wan to vote. Some ah dem campaign on we back and some ah dem play nice to get we vote, "One People; One BWeeI" and as dey get in dere them true color show. Ah shoulda vote for Baldhead. At least he woulda look out for we. Ah find she hypocrite but den agin a leopard cahn change it color. She never did a like we that's y the calypso man did sing pon she. Wortlist.
  • Could it Be? (14/06/2019, 08:24) Like (12) Dislike (4) Reply
    But were the understudies actually performing, or were they just hanging about for a bigger pay cheque when the alpha dogs leave? I agree that having "locals" learn the ropes and playing an active role in a business is a good idea, but if they (locals) don't do a good job of learning, have they in fact qualified? Plenty of management trainees in the real world never make the cut. Just because someone is a "local" that does not and should not automatically qualify them to be able to run a business.
  • island man (14/06/2019, 08:26) Like (7) Dislike (12) Reply
    She is right and we voting her back in 2023
  • SMH (14/06/2019, 12:58) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ask the local business owners who hires expatriates, to know what can of job the local provides. Or better yet, some of the politicians have businesses, let their business be run by locals and let see what happens.
  • facts (14/06/2019, 21:10) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    VIP does look out for the locals
  • Diaspora (14/06/2019, 21:52) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Who is enforcing the Labour Code? Are the laws not being enforce to “curry favor” family, friends.....etc? Unenforced laws is the same as having no laws. Businesses are in the game to turn a profit. Businesses are loyal to the Benjamins, not locals/Belongers or the country. Expats are motivated to work for less and businesses are motivated to exploit and hire them over locals. Businesses offer wages that they know locals are not going to accept but expats will. Again, it I actually about the Benjamins. If locals are under studying expats, at what point will the local assume the position?
  • Fed Up (14/06/2019, 22:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    rymer stop talking crap. You are the same one telling persons under the last government that they could not be hired because it political. I am sure the Jr. Minister was not referring to the expats from the Caribbean. Check what will happen when that big hotel BDL open in VG soon. Everyday the puppet HR person going to labor for permits for all the top managers. The NDP sell out. They approved work permits for ALL top management positions before the ads even went in the paper.Rymer need to enforce the Labor code and do her job and ensure that our people are trained. Imagine the person who came from Dominica and work at this property for fifteen years, got training etc and they bringing in someone from the US, india or the phillipines. We have to stop this
  • asking for a friend (15/06/2019, 08:35) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    What about the deal that dr smith signed getting rid of locals at the hotel on VG? So most senior managers could be expats


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