Theyre not hiring, but I see all foreign labourers right down to the guy mixing the mortar
Desperate to find work, three men erect sign by the side of a busy thoroughfare
By Ceola Wilson
So desperate to find steady work, an unemployed Bermudian erected a sign and posted it on the roadside near Ducking Stool on the North Shore, hoping to land a job.
Frederick Trott, 48 of Deepdale, Pembroke decided to draw up the sign after filling out countless job applications to no avail. He has been out of a steady job for three years.
I figured the only other choice I have is to put up a sign which I did about a week ago. The only feedback Ive gotten is a call from The Royal Gazette but no job, he said.
My family just buried my mother last month and Im on the verge of losing my apartment. I do odd jobs to try and keep my rent above water, as of today Im two months behind on my rent.
I live alone and I dont have any children, thankfully its just me on my own, I tried to get financial assistance last year. They gave me all the paperwork but I never went back because I want to fend for myself.
I have my health and strength, I can do for myself and I would rather somebody who really needs it gets it; Id rather work for what I need, said Mr Trott. He was joined by two other Bermudians who are also unemployed.
William Robinson, 51, of Berkeley Hill, Pembroke said the one saving grace for him is the fact that his spouse owns a home. He has two children who are now adults and a nine-year-old.
I thank God that my spouse owns the house thats paid for, that takes off some of the burden but we still have other bills. One child is away in school plus the basic necessities of living — we all still have to eat, he said.
A former Corporation of Hamilton employee, Mr Robinson admitted he lost his job when he was sent to prison for 16 months after he violated the terms of his probation on a conviction for driving while impaired.
They just tell me they are not hiring yet and that when they do I will be considered for reinstatement but so far theres been nothing yet, he said.
He has also been to several construction sites in search of a job. Take for instance that job site on Pitts Bay Road where Waterloo House used to be, Ive been there.
Theyre not hiring but when I look at the workers on that site I see all foreign labourers right down to the guy mixing the mortar. Down at the new hospital site its the same way, the majority of the labourers I see there are foreigners.
I dont know what they are paying them but the average labourer today makes $15 an hour, the union rate was $19 an hour. It seems to me that we have gone backwards and its only because the foreigner will take cheap rates without hesitation, said Mr Robinson.
I blame the Government because they are allowing it, they give out the work permits, and I blame the employers who want cheap labour.
When I see foreigners doing work that Bermudians could do in jobs that you dont need much qualifications for and I cant even get one of them, I feel let down by my Government because there is no set minimum wage.
To make matters worse, employers turn around and say Bermudians are lazy because we cannot afford to work for substandard pay. A Bermudian cant survive off of bottom wages said Mr Robinson.
Plus the employer provides foreigners with housing while the workers send most of their earnings out of the country to places where $12 an hour is a lot of money. I cant survive off that. By the time they take out pension, social insurance, payroll tax, health insurance youre left with virtually nothing.
Mr Trott said: I think Bermudians need to look out for their own first to make sure that their own people are taken care of first. Its time for us to get back together and stand as one.
Anthony Stevens, 56 of Pembroke who also works in construction has been unemployed for three years with the exception of odd jobs here and there.
We gave this Government a chance to do things for us and they are not looking out for us, their own people, as far as Im concerned theyre lining their pockets not mine, he said.
They say nothing is getting built, I say it is its just that we are not getting the work and that makes me mad. I wont say I have resorted to crime, but I would if it comes to that; Im not going to just sit back and starve, said Mr Stevens.
On that note Mr Robinson predicts things will get much worse if the economy doesnt get better.
Right now we have young black guys fighting against and killing each other but pretty soon its going to change.
There will come a time when its going to be against the tourists, establishments, youre going to start seeing grocery stores being robbed. All sorts of stuff is going to happen because people have got to survive and when they cant eat they get desperate, there will be some problems.
I hear stories of desperation out here everyday, every year we have more students graduating with no prospects of employment in sight.
The average young guy today thinks nothing of selling drugs or stealing when he cant find work.
If he cannot support himself by working legally hes going to do it illegally; Im not condoning it but just take a look around. To the powers that be and employers, it would be wise to give us a chance.
If it doesnt work out at least you could say you gave us a chance, said Mr Robinson, adding: There will be a whole heap of desperate people willing to just take it.