BVI News

Call for clearer emergency laws | Private-sector workers forced to come in during Dorian?

Image of a section of Tortola immediately following Hurricane Dorian. (Photo provided)

Opposition legislator Julian Fraser is calling for more specific legislation to regulate private sector employers who force their workers to come into work during times of national emergency such as natural disasters.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us as legislators to ensure even before we saw what took place with Irma to ensure that we don’t put our citizens at risk … Our legislation on curfew [and] our legislation on impending disasters has to be clear and concise,” Fraser said in the House of Assembly on Monday, September 2.

Fraser made the call while noting reports that some employers ordered their employees to attend work during Hurricane Dorian last Wednesday.

“Long after the government had announced that the civil servants were not to report to work except for essential workers — and even after there was talk of a curfew to be issued — in the private sector, employees were being asked to come to work and threatened. This information was conveyed to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). The NEOC, from what I understood, made contact to some of those employers and their response wasn’t favourable,” Fraser said.

The veteran legislator said such incidences should not be taken likely and said he expects the same stance from the other members of the House.

“We’ve seen what hurricanes can do. We’ve seen what happens when you don’t put the right precautionary measures in place and I think it is clear and easy for everyone to understand that we need to stand up to these employers, who come to this country in positions of superiority over our people, to let them know that they (residents) are not robots, they can get hurt, they have families, they have life to protect and we are here to do that,” Fraser argued.

Premier promises probe

Responding to Fraser’s comments, Premier Andrew Fahie said he and Labour Minister Vincent Wheatley will look into the report.

“It shivered me when I heard you say it because this is the first I’ve heard it. [I shudder] to know that there would be employers who would be not only callous but so distasteful to have employees out even though the territory has announced a curfew,” the Premier stated.

“I want to give you the assurance that I will be asking the NEOC who they (the accused employers) are and also speak with you because you are correct. These are people’s lives and you can’t replace a life and when the territory, the state, announce that everyone has to be off the road, everyone has to be off the road whether it is private or whether it’s public.”

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

13 Comments

Disclaimer: BVI News and its affiliated companies are not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the comments below or other interaction among the users.

  1. watchin says:

    So print the names of the companies which did this …. local or not

    • Shameful says:

      One of the largest trust company in the BVI who doesn’t care anything about their staff

      Like 10
      Dislike 1
      • Thank you Fraser says:

        The private company don’t care??‍♂️ one bit about the employees I got stuck on a island because the manager said said no more boat will be available because of the curfew had to sleep on the island till the next morning and my family at home It was hard going to sleep a knowing what Irma did To US and my fam at home‼️

  2. Shameful says:

    One of the largest trust company in the BVI who doesn’t care anything about their staff

  3. Gas station says:

    Gas station called in their workers early to serve gas in rain n lightening. And if they had declined I bet they would be suspended or even been told they don’t need their jobs.

  4. bill says:

    is it the big chewing gum company>>??

    Like 10
    • Troy Dent says:

      In all fairness the employees of the Trust Company were not forced to go to work. The new and improved manager simply made it clear that it was still a working day despite what the Governor or any of the employees had to say. He did graciously allowed them to wear casual clothes instead of the usual work attire. He’s such a sweetheart.

      Like 10
      Dislike 7
      • Wth says:

        Manager sounds like a Jackass

        Like 17
        • Hmmm says:

          I know the private sector was bad but my goodness risking lives for what??? One missed day my goodness…..Are these companies that financially strapped?????? Especially after what the BVI has been through? Did the current managers go through Irma or were they here to experience what happens during storms and the issues with roads? I mean this seems to be a case of blatant ignorance……..

  5. Captain says:

    And no one paid any mind to the curfew

  6. hello says:

    Supermarkets!!!

    • Blah says:

      Supermarkets are essential but the hours should be reduced to ensure that workers are home way before the storm arrives. Trust companies, clothing stores, hair dressers etc.should not be opened at all.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Prayers for all in path of these awful storms.
    People in charge just don’t listen to Evacuate orders. The fire marshalls and Emergency Teams should personally address managers to keep order. I would leave anyway life is more precious. Amazing,

Leave a Comment

Shares