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Govt admits does not know how many Bermudians work on Heritage Wharf site

After weeks of reassuring the public that at least 75 percent of the workforce at Heritage Wharf is local, Government now says it cannot say how many Bermudians are in full time employment at the site. Nor can it say whether additional work permits have been issued since the project began. Questions put to the Public Works Ministry since March 3, by

The Royal Gazette seeking to determine the size of the full time local workforce and an explanation of the recruitment of the foreign labour, were finally answered on April 15. But Government says it does not have the capacity to determine specific workforce numbers. “The Ministry of Public Works can assure you that the majority of the workers employed at the project are Bermudians,” said a Ministry spokesperson by e-mail. “Specific numbers cannot be provided because the numbers change on a daily basis depending upon the activities being undertaken on site and the Ministry has limited resources to verify every activity undertaken on a project of this magnitude.” The spokesperson added that non-Bermudians are only used for specialist work that is not available locally. But, asked whether any additional work permits have been issued for the project the spokesperson said that, too, is unverifiable. “This cannot be verified because the numbers change on a daily basis depending upon the activities being undertaken — verification would require that someone be on hand at any given point in the day where a specialist activity may be required and the Ministry does not have the resources to devote to this when those same resources are deployed to ensure the project is completed on schedule. “Additional work permits will only be issued where it is essential to have the required expertise and experience not available locally for specialist work deemed time critical. “Regarding the work undertaken by non-Bermudians, the Ministry is training local labour where possible.” Asked why the work permit jobs had not been advertised, the spokesperson said that the normal advertising requirements had been waived because the positions were temporary, specialised and there were no plans for the workers to be resident on the Island. “This policy has been in existence since 2001. For the avoidance of doubt the policy states: Advertising is required when there is the plan to apply for a standard work permit; i.e. the person coming to Bermuda on a temporary permit (initially) will later be a “working resident. Advertising is not required where there is no requirement or plans for an application for a standard work permit; ie the person on a temporary permit will only be here for a short period as a “working visitor” and ideally the work being done is not disadvantaging a Bermudian. Also, temps are not advertised where the role is deemed to be specialised and/or where there is a local/global shortage.” Shadow Public Works Minister Derrick Burgess has questioned whether Bermudians are being bypassed for opportunities on the project.

Photo by Glenn Tucker Two barge-born cranes are shown at work on Heritage Wharf beyond the bow of the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas earlier this month.