Restaurant chiefs to meet Govt
The Restaurant Division of the Chamber of Commerce is to meet with Economy Minister Patrice Minors today to discuss implementation of the work permit moratorium policy.
Mrs Minors told Parliament on February 3 that about 25 kitchen assistants on work permits were denied appeals by their employers to keep them.
Teresa Chatfield, co-chair of the division, said then that the decision had left some restaurants in “disarray”.
“Their kitchen assistants have to finish in the next two weeks to a month and replacing them at short notice is extremely tough, a situation made worse by the fact that most restaurants are probably operating under full strength,” she said.
She could not say what specifically would be on the agenda for the meeting as feedback from the restaurants was still being collected.
Ms Chatfield said: “We understand the pressures that the Government is under to ensure that Bermudians at every level are employed and the numbers show that restaurants have done their part in employing many individuals previously in construction or other industries - but that does need to be balanced.
“The job is not just one which requires cleaning pots and pans. These kitchen assistants are ultimately the ones who keep the kitchens and restaurants clean under the requirements of the Health Department licencing and with the spectre of food poisoning an issue in Bermuda’s humidity, this is a critical aspect.
“Add to that the fact that the job may entail cleaning every part of the restaurant when everyone else has finished and working late at night. It is not the most appealing of jobs either.”
Government did not respond when asked how many appeals were accepted. Nor would it confirm the total number of kitchen assistant work permits on hold - believed to be around 50.
One restaurateur who did get to keep his kitchen assistant said he was “relieved and grateful” when the decision came.
In August, 2010 Government imposed a work permit moratorium for landscape gardeners, cleaners, kitchen porters and bar porters. All work permit applications for such jobs were put on hold. In February, 2011 the moratorium was extended until April, 2011 and employers were told that initial work permit applications had been denied, but that they could appeal that decision within 14 business days.
Last month, a number of employers were told that their work permit holders had to quit working within a week and settle their affairs in Bermuda shortly thereafter. Minister Minors, reacting to an outcry from the industry, later revisited that decision and gave employers time to refile their appeals.
She said that there had been a delay in processing appeals.