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Home shopping, staycations, reality checks

Dear Sir,

Craig Cannonier has appealed to “Bermudians” to support local business, the mom-and-pop shops, instead of spending money on Amazon, Facebook and Google — not sure what Google is selling these days, but I'm sure tech-savvy Craig can enlighten us.

David Burt, the Premier, recently suggested staycations to support local tourism. But who are these desperate appeals directed towards?

Perhaps clarity is required for the substantial guest-worker population of Bermuda, some of whom have resided here for more than 25 years and are still on a work permit. They are not Bermudian. Do these appeals to “Bermudians” apply to them?

This may be in fact a unique opportunity for guest workers to adopt their own mantra in response to the “Bermudian First” slogan of the Premier, the Progressive Labour Party and its many supporters.

Perhaps the guest-worker mantra should be “Me First”. As second-class citizens or third or fourth — I always get confused where guest workers fit relative to the gay community and other minority groups; I suppose if you were a gay guest worker, you would probably come in fifth or sixth — they make a substantial contribution to the economy.

But perhaps now, as second-class citizens, they will continue to buy goods and services from sources of their choice — including Amazon, eBay or anywhere else — with no compulsion to support the generally overpriced local market, regardless of its dire predicament, and the appeals of the Bermudian First movement.

Perhaps guest workers will buy their own healthy food, at least supporting the farmers, rather than pay excessive prices for takeout or dine-in — whenever it comes back. Perhaps they will choose to walk the beach in the evening rather than pay $10 for a Heineken at a bar.

To Messrs Cannonier and Burt, and Mr and Mrs Bermudian First, if you would like guest workers to support your decimated local economy, you should treat guest workers, and especially long-term residents, with the respect they merit, recognising the rights they deserve based on international standards, rather than treating them as a mere convenience while you need them to fill jobs — while at the same time, the vocal minority cries that they are taking jobs from poor, disadvantaged Bermudians.

If every guest worker had to leave Bermuda tomorrow, most would be able to find employment elsewhere because they have marketable skills and experience that are in demand. Quite a shocking concept, but that is why they are here. And I'm inclined to think over the next many months, or years, you will need the skills and experience of guest workers even more so than before, to “support” the economy.

The PLP has been handed a golden opportunity on a silver platter to deal with immigration reform in an aggressive and comprehensive manner. And we're not talking about granting permanent resident's certificates to 25-year residents who first have to prove they are not closet criminals, sing the national anthem and pass a multiple-choice history quiz. We're talking about progressive reform in line with international standards.

If the Bermudian First movement still believes that Bermuda can roll the dice with a regressive immigration policy, risking further depletion of the workforce and associated economic output, then be prepared to pay the consequences at a price that could not have been imagined just three months ago.

And although immigration reform would be just one piece in an extremely challenging survival/recovery strategy, it is a piece that could be easily expedited, because it has already been debated, discussed and consulted on to the nth degree.

The PLP has a golden opportunity to do what's best for Bermuda. Let's hope for the sake of Mr and Mrs Bermudian First, that it's not too late to recognise the opportunity and act on it.



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Published May 15, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 15, 2020 at 8:58 am)

Home shopping, staycations, reality checks

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