Govt scheme to help 20 jobless
Government will put 20 of Bermuda’s jobless to work this summer, on small “shovel ready” projects around the Island.
The Small Works Job Initiative was announced yesterday by Economy Minister Kim Wilson, and Government Estates Minister Neletha Butterfield.
Noting that “industrial unrest has dominated the media in the past few weeks”, Senator Wilson said: “As the economy shrinks and budgets are cut, inevitably the pressure builds to retain jobs as well as to maintain working conditions, rates of pay and all of the associated benefits.
“Unions will inevitably work harder on behalf of their members, despite the surrounding circumstances, to retain jobs. In light of all of this, I think it is fitting that we are here today to talk about adding new jobs and releasing some of the pressure on our community by getting people back to work.”
The workers, all of whom are registered with the Department of Labour and Training, will earn a minimum of $600 a week for eight to ten weeks.
Their work on Government sites will include painting red roadside post boxes, and the outside walls of six post offices, as well as the Seaview fitness facility in Devonshire.
The teams will also clear debris from the old Sea Cadets House in Hog Bay, Southampton. The buildings may also be boarded up.
The workers were recruited last week at a jobs fair held at the Bermuda Industrial Union Headquarters.
They will work with private contractor Bobby Carty, a graduate of the Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation’s (BSBDC) incubator programme.
Mr Carty, owner of MarCarty General Construction and Landscaping, joined the two Ministers for the announcement.
The eight to ten week initiative will favour those receiving Government financial assistance. Their weekly $600-minimum salaries will be deducted from their financial assistance awards.
The $300,000 initiative is to be funded from the $1.15 million unemployment fund put aside in 2002, which was freed up last month when the House of Assembly passed Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox’s Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Amendment Act.
Sen Wilson said: “Despite the criticism from pundits in some segments of the community, this is not a detached Government quite the opposite, in fact.
“We have our finger on the pulse and we will not be deterred from striving forward and enacting immediate and practical solutions which will aid those in need.”
The Island currently has 1,081 people registered as “unemployed and underemployed”, she said.
Ms Butterfield explained that the Ministry of Government Estates will approve purchases of equipment, monitor field work, and sign off on completed jobs.
The project management fee was arranged through a Memorandum of Understanding with the BSBDC.
The programme is a partnership between Ministries, including Economy, Trade and Industry, Youth, Families and Sports, and Community Development.