Printers critical of Chamber’s work permit application for salesman
Local printing companies have complained that the Chamber of Commerce recommended a salesman for a US printing company receive a work permit — despite being in direct competition with local companies.
While it is not uncommon for the Chamber to recommend temporary work permits for overseas salespeople to promote their products to local retailers, members of the local printing industry expressed concern that the salesman was in direct competition with them, potentially stealing business.
As a result of the complaint, a spokeswoman said the Chamber met on Wednesday to develop a position statement on Salesman permits.
The statement says that according to Immigration regulations all work permits, including those for visiting salesmen, be held by a local corporate entity, and the Chamber believes it is the correct entity to hold and vet such permits.
It also states: “Should the issuing of a permit cause an industry group concern, the Chamber’s position is to review the permit and act in the best interests of its membership and Bermuda.
“Such was the situation in the case of Ad salesmen and the publishing industry in 2011 where the Chamber declined permits and issued an advisory to its membership against the practice of purchasing advertising in the magazines produced by these salesmen.
“With regard to the local printing industry, the Chamber’s Printing and Publishing Division will review the complaint and recommend a course of action if appropriate.”
Chamber president Ronnie Viera said: “There are sales people which travel to Bermuda to sell the products to local merchants, for resale in their stores, many of whom are our members.
“They require a temporary work permit in order to do so and the Chamber submits the permit letter and fee on their behalf. Certainly, we do not want people who are directly competing with our members, however.”
Mike Holshouser of Triangle Press said yesterday that visiting salesmen have already impacted the industry, which employees dozens of Bermudians.
“I am disappointed that the Chamber of Commerce recommended a work permit for a salesman who acts in direct competition with local printing companies that employ Bermudians. This type of activity has already had a direct impact on our business,” he said.
“I look forward to the Chamber addressing this matter, and hope that a mutually beneficial solution can be found so that this incident is not repeated.”
And Jonathan Howes, the CEO of Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd — publisher of The Royal Gazette — said: “I find it disappointing that a sales permit was issued to a foreign print company allowing them to take business from Bermudian print companies.
“The print industry in Bermuda has contracted as a result of the recession, technology, and changing consumer behaviours, and to allow foreign companies, with lower operating costs, to compete with local companies that employ Bermudians is not a level playing field.
“This has been an ongoing issue for the print industry. I am encouraged that the Chamber of Commerce has listened to its members, and believe that a solution will be found that supports its members, and ultimately the livelihood of the Bermudians who work in the print industry.”
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