Foreign cleaners told to leave
Hospitality industry bosses are being told by the Immigration Department that work permits for their cleaners and potwashers will not be renewed and that their workers must stop working by Friday.
Restaurateurs told The Royal Gazette that the Department had called them to say that the workers all of whose work permit renewals were on hold because of a moratorium imposed last February had to cease and desist working as of January 20 and settle their affairs on the island within the following three weeks.
Every potwasher and every cleaner has been rejected, said one restaurateur who did not want to be named.
We have been told that by January 20 they must cease and desist working, and they must leave the island three weeks after that.
The restaurateur said that four of his employees were affected.
The whole island, as of next Friday, will have no foreign workers working in this capacity. It affects every business. Its insanity.
Immigration officials are telling the employers to pick up a package from the department tomorrow afternoon for details, according to three restaurateurs contacted by this newspaper.
Economy Minister Patrice Minors issued a statement defending her administrations efforts to put Bermudians back to work when asked to explain the reports.
Let me state first that this Government and I as Minister responsible for employment and work permits will be doing everything in our power to ensure that Bermudians, who are willing and able, obtain employment, she said.
Unemployment has a devastating affect on persons who, until they were made redundant, were taking care of themselves and their families, paying their bills and their rents or mortgages.
Unemployment also has a devastating impact on our economy, the public purse and the social fabric in our Island.
The news follows the Economy Ministers announcement on Thursday that she was considering adding more job categories that were closed to work permits.
The Minister said then that the moratorium had been successful with hundreds of jobs opening up for Bermudians.
As I stated in the news briefing on Thursday, getting unemployed Bermudians back to work is the number one priority for myself and the departments in my Ministry, the Minister said last night.
This will mean that there are changes to our policies and procedures; and a strict regimen will be adopted. However, as I had committed on Thursday, I will not be making changes until I have consulted with the employer groups.
But in the same way that we pull together in a crisis such as a hurricane, the Government, employers, unions and Bermudians must pull together to find ways to get Bermudians back to work.
This will include:
(1) reducing the number of work permits, particularly in areas that do not require highly trained individuals and where there are adequate numbers of Bermudians who are qualified or willing to retrain;
(2) providing the appropriate training for Bermudians who are willing to retrain for available positions; and
(3) providing those employers that are willing to hire and train Bermudians to maintain adequate staff on work permits, where necessary, to accomplish the training and mentoring of newly hired Bermudians.
Mrs Minors said that she was meeting with members of the hospitality industry to listen to their concerns and discuss how we can work together to achieve our mutual goals.
However I must stress that employers who are willing to work with us and get Bermudians back to work will be provided with an enabling environment, those employers who do not want to provide opportunities to Bermudians will not be allowed to benefit from the grant of work permits.
In February last year a moratorium on work permits was imposed for landscape gardeners, cleaners, kitchen and bar porters, housekeepers and skilled labourers. It meant that renewal applications were put on hold.