Restaurateurs will now have to refile work permit appeals by Friday

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  • A pot washer at work in a Hamilton-area restaurant

    A pot washer at work in a Hamilton-area restaurant
    (Photo by Akil Simmons)

Economy Minister Patrice Minors has asked employers of foreign kitchen assistants to refile appeals to keep their staff whose work permits have expired.

Work permit renewal applications have been on hold since the moratorium was imposed last February, but employers had been given an April deadline to appeal, The Royal Gazette has learned.

The new deadline for filing the appeals is January 20 this coming Friday.

Minister Minors has acknowledged in a statement released on Monday that an “internal backlog” led to administrative delays in processing the paperwork associated with the moratorium on job categories.

Hospitality industry bosses reported their alarm at being told last Friday that foreign pot washers, whose jobs are subject to the work permit moratorium, had to quit working by this Friday.

The Minister’s statement, which followed a meeting with industry representatives, said that the one week notice given by the Department was “somewhat aggressive” and would be revisited.

Yesterday, Craig Cannonier, Leader of the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance said the statement made it clear the Government was acting without thinking “The Government is so desperate to be seen to be taking action on behalf of the people that they are rushing around without thinking about what they are actually doing,” he said.

“The Minister’s plan to revisit her directives to get rid of expat cleaners is just a reflection of PLP politics getting ahead of clear thinking.

“It’s just one more example of how politics is not serving the people in this instance not the jobless nor the job creators.

“As we said yesterday, we support any effort to get Bermudians working, but you really have to be smart about how you go about achieving that.

“We want the Government to succeed in getting jobs for the jobless, but for goodness sake they’ve got to take care to get their ducks in a row first.”

Kim Swan, who serves as a United Bermuda Party MP advised the Government to “measure twice and cut once” when implementing controversial policies, and said the Minister’s decision to meet with the stakeholders and revisit the time frame reflected the sensitivity required.

“It is important to appreciate that businesses who meet a mandate to be profitable benefit our country,” Mr Swan added.

“It will be profitable business who are the best capable of getting Bermuda’s people back to a state of full and over employment again.”

The Minister’s statement on Monday was not specific as to exactly what the administrative delays were.

But a note to the industry sent by the restaurant division of the Chamber of Commerce last night, and obtained by The Royal Gazette, said that restaurateurs wanting to keep their foreign kitchen assistants were being asked by the Minister to refile their appeals before Friday this week.

“The Minister has advised that appeals must be lodged before Friday 20th January 2012 to justify the continued employment of the foreign Kitchen Assistants whose permits are on hold.

“We requested that a blanket appeal process for all Chamber members be allowed, however the Minister and PS indicated that each employer must send in their own appeal.

“The format of the appeal should be to send in a current letter (attaching the original appeal) stating subsequent attempts and results in recruiting Bermudians for the job.

“We have also requested when these new appeals will be answered. The Minister advised that she would consult with the Department and would revert with a response. We will continue to seek clarity over the longer term future of foreign Kitchen Assistants.

“There was a deadline in April last year when we had to put in our appeals to keep these people,” said one frustrated restaurateur who did not want to be named. “They’ve already got my appeal. I’ve not had any response from my appeal. Nothing.”

Philip Barnett, co-chair of the Restaurant division of the Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that more than 50 appeals had been lodged with Immigration last year and that to his understanding none had received a decision.

“I’ve no problem doing it again,” said our anonymous restaurateur. “But make a decision. The fact that they have a backlog is their problem. They’ve had 12 months to sort this out, just as we’ve had 12 months notice.”

He said: “Everything that Government and Labour and Training has asked me to do, I’ve done. I’ve done nothing illegal. All the information they wanted last year, I gave it to them.”

Another restaurateur said that she does not accept the administrative delay excuse given by the Minister. “They simply do not know what to do,” she said.

The Ministry declined to comment when asked a series of questions yesterday afternoon.

We sought information on the number of unemployed registered with the Department of Labour and Training who would be willing to do the kitchen porter job, the nature of the “internal backlog that led to a paper work processing delay and what should have happened, administratively, that did not happen with respect to the moratorium job categories.

We also asked the Ministry for more details about the Clean Kitchens Course an initiative announced by the Minister on Monday following her meeting with hospitality industry representatives.

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Published Jan 18, 2012 at 6:56 am (Updated Jan 18, 2012 at 8:43 am)

Restaurateurs will now have to refile work permit appeals by Friday

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