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How long can VI sustain influx of foreign workers?- Violet Thomas-Gaul

- Premier Dr Wheatley says Gov’t to soon consult with public on new immigration policy
With an economy that is highly dependent on the use of imported labour to push the local economy, talk show host Mrs Violet Thomas-Gaul has raised questions about how long the Virgin Islands (VI) can sustain a proliferation of foreign workers at the expense of locals not taking up jobs. Photo: Facebook
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), 2nd from right, was at guest of Talking Points on ZBVI 780 AM on Monday, September 11, 2023. Second from left is Violet Thomas-Gaul. Photo: Facebook
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), 2nd from right, was at guest of Talking Points on ZBVI 780 AM on Monday, September 11, 2023. Second from left is Violet Thomas-Gaul. Photo: Facebook
BAUGHERS BAY, Tortola, VI– With an economy that is highly dependent on the use of imported labour to push the local economy, talk show host Mrs Violet Thomas-Gaul has raised questions about how long the Virgin Islands (VI) can sustain a proliferation of foreign workers at the expense of locals not taking up jobs.

“People coming into this territory, how long will we be able to sustain that? We are not training our own people to take jobs or a lot of them feel like they don't want the work that’s out there, I don't know,” she said on the September 11, 2023, edition of Talking Points on ZBVI 780AM.

People coming & staying for work 

“How are we going to manage that, because that in itself, all the people that's coming in and staying in for work for they're taking away a lot from the territory and especially the ones you're talking about who are not contributing to the thing but pulling out money, there's a lot of that going on I found out recently.”

Mrs Thomas-Gaul was at the time interviewing Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) on the question of how such issues can be tackled locally.

“Well, we've done more than give it thought. We actually have a process and I mentioned this in a statement in the House of Assembly (HoA), where we will soon consult with the public on a new immigration, immigration policy,” Premier Wheatley responded.

He added that the issues came up in the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) and, even before, persons in the VI realised that immigration reform was needed and that there was a challenge between existing government policies and the law.

Time for us to take action- Premier Wheatley 

Acknowledging that the Virgin Islands economy experienced rapid growth with the rise of the tourism industry in the 60s and financial services in the 80s, Dr Wheatley said it was almost impossible to be able to facilitate the expansion and development of the economy without bringing in foreign labour.

He said; however, now is the time to take action, regarding the management of the workforce.

“We could have done a better job, I believe, in managing… in a lot of ways we had unmanaged migration,” he said, which resulted in negative effects. 

The Premier said the job now is to determine what are the local objectives for immigration in today's world and to recognise that the situation in 2023 is different from the situation in the 70s-90s with a change in the population makeup. 

44 Responses to “How long can VI sustain influx of foreign workers?- Violet Thomas-Gaul ”

  • asura (14/09/2023, 16:45) Like (5) Dislike (5) Reply
    this is ting to talk yall
  • News Flash (14/09/2023, 16:55) Like (49) Dislike (2) Reply
    Every prosperous country will experience this same dilemma. With the oil now in Guyana they will soon be crying out the same thing. People go where there's upward mobility but it is up to the home country to set its standards up front.
  • Observation (14/09/2023, 16:57) Like (54) Dislike (22) Reply
    Most local businesses do not like to hire local people anywhere in the world because they are too dam rude and disrespectful and feel entitled. Note this is not all locals but it is a fact.
    • Uncle (14/09/2023, 21:45) Like (17) Dislike (18) Reply
      So the 4King Philippines who have a net work of communication and talking locals business and talking people's salaries to the Philippines community ain't a 4King problem!!! They MS rude and ain't better skilled than any other nationality. Now them getting work permit exempted. Thing to talk!!
      • @uncle (15/09/2023, 03:16) Like (10) Dislike (9) Reply
        Yet they speak better English than you!

        Wow what hate! You horrible person.
        • @ @uncle (16/09/2023, 22:44) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
          Seriously though, there are too many filipinos taking up local employment. Many of these jobs should go to the local people. Labor is not doing its due diligence to uphold the labor code. It’s time for the people to speak up.
      • Uncle who (15/09/2023, 19:20) Like (5) Dislike (4) Reply
        Dude, seriously, what’s with the hate? Let me guess, you cant book a court at the sports club? Lol
    • Concerned (15/09/2023, 07:44) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
      How many locals employed in One Mart
  • What a guy (14/09/2023, 16:59) Like (31) Dislike (7) Reply
    All this Premier does is put down the work of all past leaders. He always says the wrong things. He should try speaking less.
  • Ahhhh (14/09/2023, 16:59) Like (21) Dislike (24) Reply
    What a beautiful and intelligent lady.
  • I agree (14/09/2023, 17:31) Like (31) Dislike (13) Reply
    An outdated mentality. Time to stop we don't need an overflow. If you notice now their lifestyle comes with it. The police force cannot handle no added troubles. Close off and use what is here already, unless they are needed other wise
  • Galloping Horse (14/09/2023, 17:41) Like (37) Dislike (13) Reply
    To Ms. Gaul, Premier, et al. The concern that you have is a very real one but more of a dilemma. Local businesses/organizations prefer to hire expats because they feel that they can pay them minimum wage and treat them any way they want. Locals on the other hand will not tolerate that and swift resistance would be met. Local businesses also love the work ethic of some expats and because of that there is a proliferation of a specific race taking over the workforce in the BVI currently. Who is to take the blame for this?

    I am told that when Labour rejects the work permit, the District Rep and Minister is hauled into the picture. Is this at the expense of a vote?

    I know of someone who have been' taken for a ride' recently by an overseas organization. They conducted 4 interviews with the candidate and following the 4th one decided not to hire the local. Reason: We have decided not to fill the position. However, the same organization was trying to get extensions for their expat workers.

    Do you see the dynamics that are playing out here? Locals in the BVI want work, are looking for work and are being sidelined. The Labour Dept hands are 'tied' in many instances and nothing can be done. So yes, we have a problem on our hands and persoanlly I don't think a labour and immigration policy will fix it. Remember, persons lifestyles depend on this. (Read between the lines)

  • jah know (14/09/2023, 17:48) Like (47) Dislike (17) Reply
    This again!?
    These ppl contribute in so many ways before their lil left over monies are sent out to their families abroad.
    • waste of time (14/09/2023, 21:22) Like (24) Dislike (12) Reply
      These are the same people paying your mortgages, so tell miss doubtful Thomas to have a seat in the corner.
      • People (15/09/2023, 00:18) Like (3) Dislike (6) Reply
        There is no need to fight each other on this issue as this is playing right into the colonial masters hands.
  • james (14/09/2023, 18:02) Like (18) Dislike (23) Reply
    Well to be honest Ms.Gaul, the Garrot and Gasso count is quite high. I look around and see a large gathering of Santos, Coolie, Chutney, Jam Down and Vincies. Thank god the Chings and A-Rab count remains low, along with them African sambos. Yes its a real problem in our land.
    • @james (15/09/2023, 07:20) Like (12) Dislike (4) Reply
      The Africans are not sambos. That is what Europeans call you and me. After all it was our immediate ancestors that were hauled off in slave ships. Have you ever been to Africa? If you had you would know better. Your vitriol against other Caribbean nationals shows that you have quite a bit to learn.
    • :( (15/09/2023, 09:26) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
  • Guya (14/09/2023, 18:08) Like (6) Dislike (5) Reply
    Coming by d plane and bus load full soon
  • mad max (14/09/2023, 18:13) Like (14) Dislike (7) Reply
    Ironically, you would not need to import half as much labour if you had given status when it was due. Those people given status and their children would have added to the worldly and become BVIslanders. Instead you sent them packing and disenfranchised their children. Therefore new labour is needed.
  • Migoman (14/09/2023, 18:36) Like (23) Dislike (8) Reply
    For how long? For as long as locals are lazy to do anything
  • c (14/09/2023, 18:48) Like (28) Dislike (3) Reply
    Cant keep the young local entitled workers to stay off the phone while on the job
  • anyone notice? (14/09/2023, 19:04) Like (28) Dislike (3) Reply
    "People coming into the country"...The melting pot is what supports the local economy. 'The people' pay rent to local landlords, buy food from local grocery stores. They buy cars and clothes and basically support local vendors. Many also attend local churches and contribute to the community they live in in so many ways.
  • my two cents (14/09/2023, 19:13) Like (35) Dislike (5) Reply
    The BVI has been good to our Caribbean brothers & sisters, and most of they have been good to BVI. It is a wash. Let's live in harmony.
  • VI Proud (14/09/2023, 19:24) Like (16) Dislike (6) Reply
    Give expats a break now please
  • Manjack (14/09/2023, 19:26) Like (42) Dislike (0) Reply
    If there is a continued shortage of qualified labour, the demand for foreign workers will persist. There are certain jobs that Virgin Islanders shy away from doing. This is normal/standard practice in countries which have or experiencing improve standards of living, quality of living? The BVI has done a poor job of training to meet its labour needs. Executing its labour and immigration and labour laws is an abject failure. Qualified Virgin Islanders should be given preference treatment for jobs. If no qualified locals show interest in advertised positions, then position can be given to an expat for a specified time. In the mean time, effiorts shouid be taken to recruit a qualified local. Labour must be in the ball for the qualifications listed in the advertisement. The qualifications should be commensurate with the needs of the position. For example, requiring a masters for a position than can be performed with a bachelor or associate degree. We know this practice happens to reach specific people only whom can meet the requirements. Another practice that kills local recruiting is the deliberate low balling of salary. This practice is not attractive for locals but is attractive to more “motivated” expats who may be willing to work for less. The price offered should be fair and reasonable and consistent with the local market.
  • Sinda (14/09/2023, 19:51) Like (23) Dislike (5) Reply
    How will we manage a group of people who don’t want to work? And get angry at people who immigrate here to do that work.
  • Real Talk (14/09/2023, 20:07) Like (19) Dislike (1) Reply
    How long could our BVI tourism and financial sectors survive, successfully, with no foreign workers? Really.
  • 2023 (14/09/2023, 20:48) Like (9) Dislike (4) Reply
    the territory have become very lawless; the once tranquil landscape is now filled with immigration issues; labour issues; crime issues; border security issues; political issues; education issues and that list will go on depending who you ask

    progress comes with a very high price especially if it not regulated
  • Hmm (14/09/2023, 21:07) Like (29) Dislike (4) Reply
    The issue of foreign workers isn’t that they are here but they present a dilemma that is seen in many countries around the world. As foreign workers enter the work field to do low paying, manual labor jobs, the jobs become stigmatized as economic classes become established. In other words, citizens tend to see the jobs foreigners do as below them. The only exception being high paying jobs and jobs that require advance degrees. (The opposite is also true. When high paying jobs that require degrees are dominated by foreigners then the stigma of poor, uneducated locals become established.) The irony is many manual labor jobs and low paying jobs such as waitressing can be done by young people either in or just out of high school. We have a high cost of living and many of these jobs done by foreigners are not paying enough to sustain living here. Teenagers have little to no job experience (so they can be paid low wages while still being paid fairly) and are still mostly reliant on their parents which makes them the perfect candidate for these entry level positions.

    In The Virgin Islands the legal working age is 15. In some parts of the world it is normal and even encouraged that teenagers get part time jobs as soon as they can legally work. However, in the VI we do not do this. We don’t expect our kids to work until they are 18 or have completed high school. Perhaps we should encourage parents, students and even business owners to promote a youth work culture. Having teenagers work and earn money of their own is a great way to teach them business etiquette skills and money management. The work experience gained can boost their resume for when they are ready to fully enter the work force or boost their college application for when they are ready to pursue tertiary education.

    To deal with the economic pressures of living here, many foreigners turn to aid programs to survive. I think we need to keep better record of who accesses our social services. I personally firmly believe that no one should ever be on welfare in a foreign nation. In my opinion, if you are on any kind of visa or permit and you are accessing FSN or any of our social welfare programs then you shouldn’t be here. Those services should be for citizens and permanent residents. Like it or not, the idea of a foreign worker anywhere in the world is that they are adding to the country they are in. If you aren’t doing that but instead making your host country take care of you or your family then yes you are a burden and should be sent back home.

    It has always been my belief that government has no business approving work visas for certain fields of work as they should be done by the youths for the reason stated above. The government needs to do a better job of not just vetting foreign workers but local employers as well. Many people are lured here under false pretenses. They aren’t being paid what they were promised and in some cases they aren’t working where they are listed. Employers and sponsors are luring people to work in place A and putting the in place B and holding their work permits for ransom. We need to stop the fraud and the abuse. Local employers/sponsors abusing foreign workers force foreign workers to access our aid programs. That in turn put pressure on the government and tax players as well as contribute to negative sentiments held by foreigners towards our territory. Also we all know full well that some people have visas to do illicit services and they get those visas by providing illicit services. That needs to stop as well.

    We also need to ensure people leave the territory when their visa/permits are up. Perhaps we might even enforce the idea of candidates waiting outside the territory while in the process of reapplying for these documents.

    In summary, we need to promote a youth work culture. We need to ensure people who come to work in our territory can survive and sustain themselves. We need to be more vigilant of fraud and abuse and punish those who engage in it. We need to weed out foreign workers who fail to thrive. And the government needs to stop being so complacent in the corruption that contribute to our labour problems.
  • how long? (14/09/2023, 21:17) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
  • island man (14/09/2023, 22:08) Like (5) Dislike (6) Reply
    Nobody tell them to be lazy, who you think build the country to where it is today ,who eh hut eh hut talk that
    • Norris Turnbull (15/09/2023, 04:33) Like (9) Dislike (5) Reply
      At island man. You need to shut up your ungrateful ingrate A$$. You have options. Utilize them.
    • Jack-B-Quik (15/09/2023, 04:33) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      @ island man Did you “build the country…” (according to you) for FREE?? Or were you paid for your services? I believe that was a fair trade - one hand shook the other - so stop spouting folly as if your “work” was akin to some sort of donation. I get so tired of listening to and reading such foolishness. SMH.
    • tola (15/09/2023, 10:47) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
      lazy go build up your county boss don't need people like you
  • tola (14/09/2023, 23:02) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    But you can married one
  • Blasphemy (14/09/2023, 23:09) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
    Bring ‘em in! Bring ‘em ALL in!!!
  • vi (15/09/2023, 04:58) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    What they want is a gun and
    Drugs to sell who wants to do things they find a way to get it done some they play soccer track and field basketball swimming volleyball you name it generation change so what you going do to try change thier minds
  • guy hill (15/09/2023, 05:47) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    Put a fair and comprehensive immigration policy in place and enforce it across the board, sans the status quo.
  • Critique (15/09/2023, 08:54) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
    Before we look behind of us, let us pick up all the XPats ,belongers, Natralized or whatever Status ,that are Importing,Selling, or any involvement with Smuggling, or Drugs, and get them out of here.. they are staining our Country. We should only have to deal with our own, and deal with them severely.
  • Hmph (15/09/2023, 09:32) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    People need to understand that our infrastructure in its current state cannot handle the amount of people coming into the country. The size of the country alone would not be able to sustain large scale immigration if we continue to allow them to come in and stay. Job availability is going to become an issue if we continue on this part as well.
  • The COCK (15/09/2023, 11:44) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    The BVI doesnt have many unique problems.

    What is does have though is an infestation of ignorance, emotion and cultural influences impacting policy and legislative concerns.
    By the lady's own admission she only recently peeked from beneath her rock to realize a certain perspective.
    Might have that perspective been better influenced by standing upright and paying attention a might longer? Some data? Statistics?
    Where are the social scientists in this country?Statistical department? does everyone loathe the impirical?
    How many companies in the BVI-by categories?
    Next , how many are local vs expat owned?
    Is there an imbalance or trend ?
    If there are more locally owned businesses are they in fact abusing the labour code? Favoring expats? Disenfranchising locals?

    Show me an unemployed barber or mechanic.
    Show me an unemployed sex worker.
    Do expats hire themselves?
    Are expats falsely appealing to labor department or bullying locals to hire them?

    Who runs this country-expats? Or is it the same locals who legislate against gambling while greeting the illegal merchants as they peddle their wares and visit their establishments?
    Who runs this county-expats?
    Or is it the same locals who outlaw prostitution but cannot stop its proliferation behind the fire station and other established dens?
    The duplicity is mind-boggling. All-yo weak

    Do you suppose that expat managers read newspapers or otherwise experience this unbalanced perspective and will then embrace the expat worker coming for an interview? We are perpetuating the divide.

    Pray tell WTF an expat who is barely appreciated here, desired to soonest depart- after observing the laws and respecting his time here- supposed to do with his money at month end except to send it to his family who we do not want to follow him here ?Where and why should he invest it here ? Do we not expressly want him to soonest exit as per the imminent immigration and labor changes and limitations?

    The Immovable Object in SCB continues to defy the Unstoppable Force. 150 expat nurses to less than 10 locals ? Is he accusing the very government and statutory bosses of colluding with expats and snubbing locals? Where are the unemployed local nurses ? One cannot at once at once appreciate the opportunity to fill one's cup while at the same time curse the vacant space therein.

    Wake up BVI. The loud few are not a full representation of this country's fabric and potential-nor will the best meaning/minded ever gravitate toward elective politics. Oh for shame.
    I could go on....

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