BVI News

Gov’t workers told: You’re not granting favours, treat outsiders better

Christian

Public service workers in the Immigration and Labour departments are being told to discontinue their general unpleasant treatment towards non-British Virgin Islanders visiting or doing business in the territory.

While speaking in the House of Assembly recently, legislator Archibald Christian said government has had extended meetings with the commissioners of Her Majesty’s Labour and Immigration to address the longstanding problem.

Christian said: “The way we treat people when they come into our ports of entry, the way we treat people when they go to the Labour Department to deal with their documentation, the way we treat people when they go to the Immigration Department … We have to fix those systems and the people who work in these agencies have to understand that they are not doing the public a favour. They’re delivering a service to the public – a service that the public is paying for,” Christian said.

“I know that it’s going to sound a little bit contentious to some people but I am saying that if we are not careful with the way government delivers business to the public … these same people will find one day when they go down to the bank that they weren’t paid,” he added.

While describing the shoddy service expatriates have experienced from the aforementioned departments, the Junior Minister mentioned a recently resolved issue in which work permit holders stood in long lines – sometimes under unfavourable weather conditions – outside the Immigration Department in Road Town.

He then renewed calls for authorities to implement an e-Government platform to eliminate long and tedious processes between departments in the public service.

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74 Comments

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  1. ReX FeRaL says:

    Ok. Archie. How you and your gang treated the hill man who used to be in Immigration? Chose your battles wisely.

  2. Me says:

    At least one politician is speaking out in the right way. We all need to work together to build a better BVI. It’s not free, all these processes cost money. Labour fees gone up from last year so more money in the coffers. So come on people, let’s all work together!

    • Worker Bee says:

      Seriously! The folks at the ferry dock and the airport act like they learned their jobs from East German teachers.
      They were taught:
      Don’t smile!
      Don’t welcome anybody!
      If you smile or greet someone, go work for national parks!

  3. concern citizen says:

    Outsider’s must have respect when there go there
    too and must dress proper. Thank You

    • Concerned Citizen? OR Judgemental Individual? says:

      Who are you to dictate proper dress? People lost all clothing in last year storms, businesses, income etc. You have no idea where they get their clothing from so those that mean they will not be able to receive service in the government departments that we all access regardless of race, sex, religion as well as APPEARANCE.

      Have a bit of compassion for your fellow islanders. Your critical actions are the type of behavior Christian is speaking of.

      See your actions reflect many and there is no need for it.

      God Bless you!

    • Uncle Buck says:

      Respect is earned. What you might mean is that outsiders should be polite. We can’t demand respect if we do not behave in an appropriate manner. People want respect simply for being alive, but respect is due to those who through their actions show themselves to be worthy of it.

      • NOPE says:

        If you depend on others, a positive environment will never be developed.

      • Stupz says:

        Really! Customers as I know have no need to be polite. Customer service associates as employed by the said departments should be. They are not only treating outsiders badly but their internal service just as crappy. Try replacing them with machines. Haha

      • really says:

        Welcome to the BVI. A place of Hate and more hate.ONLY BVI ppl rule. dont come back!!!

  4. Benji says:

    Which is right, better treatment for non-belongers

  5. Laura says:

    We as BVIslanders (born or not), whether involved in the tourism sector or not, must keep in mind that the tourist industry affects us all. We should thus ensure that our behaviour and our actions do not paint a negative picture of the BVI. We need to go that extra mile in order to ensure that unnecessary bureaucracy does not become an impediment to our competitiveness.

    We all depend on the success of our islands as a holiday destination or foreign business avenue and so we must contribute in every possible way.

  6. HRMPH says:

    Well said Archie, but I am afraid that our civil servants will continue to be uncivil and will not remember that they are servants.

  7. de ting start says:

    archie need to take a trip to isreal or puerto rico to see how they handle outsiders

  8. Rubber Duck says:

    Actually most of the people in these departments are very pleasant once you actually meet them. But they are enforcing an unjust, unfair and inhumane system and that is bound to cause friction with its victims.

    A huge overhaul of immigration and labour law is desperately needed if these islands are ever to recover.

  9. Sam the man says:

    This public speaking down at people won’t work and is pure laziness and shows the “No Direction Party” just isn’t prepared to put action before their words! – we know that the staff here are not people friendly and need retraining/guidance which is way over due….weak threats won’t do anything….this is just as bad as what many of the rude immigration staff do “you know I can have you deported unless you comply” nonsense that makes them feel so big and important….Structure a proper training programme to help staff realise they need to change their mind set or face getting another job – simple really….

  10. Richard says:

    About time, hopefully you follow through on this!!!

  11. Hmm says:

    Well Sir, I was about to write an article of my own on this issue, but I will hold off since you have brought it forward yet again. Watch and see the ignorance of those who choose to be blind to it shine.

    It is a disgrace and this type of discrimination and treatment is no different than racism. I am always amazed with this attitude in the BVI even though I am hearing it is nothing new, just worse.

    Like I’ve told people, if you want to know how the BVI treats an expat, simply call or go through the immigration or labour department. They intentionally leave a bad taste in a visitor’s or expat’s mouth. I have had rude and unprofessional encounters even while talking calmly myself. It is selfish and heartless to treat human beings like dogs and thinking that you do not need us. Everyone needs someone and that someone you need does not always have to be from here. God will show you all again.

    I am so disappointed in you BVI people who tarnish such a lovely country and the good apples that spread about.

    God brought me here for his purpose and you all can say and do whatever you want, but at the end of the day, my God’s will WILL be done. He suffered persecution and rejection so as his follower I expect the same. God is with me on this island day in and day out…

    …why is it so hard to respect and love your neighbor and brother? Clearly he that loveth not, have not God…and surely then more of God’s discipline will come…watch and see.

    • Hmmm says:

      I too serve the True and Living God, but please forgive me when I say that you are doing the exact same thing or worse. You are generalizing all BVIslanders and that is NOT Godly. I am in NO WAY condoning the rude piggish attitude of some on these islands, but wishing God’s discipline on those of us who are kind-hearted to all persons irrespective of race or origin is NOT Godly. Also, remember there are some of us who suffer persecution on many different levels right here in our own country from mostly our own, and yes once in a while from non-belongers as well. So it behooves all of us to do the right thing and live peaceably with ALL our fellowmen. May the Great God of the Universe bless us ALL, and these beautiful Virgin Islands. Written with much love and respect for ALL who live here irrespective of colour or creed.

  12. stacy says:

    This is the first time I have ever heard this man say something that makes sense

  13. Boss says:

    I wish there was the 100 emoji. They need to tighten up. You left out one, High Court Registry!

    • Legal says:

      He sure did that place needs a shift the workers sent else where and a new set come in hundreds of dollars spent there everyday and you go there to be treated like you begging and they are not even pleasant to look at.

      • The High Court says:

        The High Court Registry collapsed once Registrar Ajarie was binned because she was Jamaican. It ran like clockwork under Miss Ajarie and Miss Whyte (another Jamaican).

  14. cwalter155 says:

    I agree, we have spent 4 months in the winter in the BVI for the past 24 years. this year because of your hardship after Irma, we tipped everyone we dealt with very very generously. all of the people we did that to were extremely gracious, a lot had tears in their eyes. However, every time we dealt with a govt employee in tortola , and virgin gorda we were treated like unwanted dirt. This was evident at both the seaports, immigration and even worse at the airport. It is really amazing that tourist who spend an enormous amount of money on your island are treated so poorly. My wife is wondering if we should stop going to the BVI

  15. Unhappy!! says:

    It is about time that our representatives recognized the damage caused by surly and rude employees of Immigration, Customs, and Labour. Many long term boaters have chosen to keep their boats somewhere else after being treated poorly by Immigration and Customs, causing a major loss of revenue throughout the whole economy. The owner of just one boat, which has left the territory for good after being harassed at the airport,said he spent an average of 30k a year here the last four years on dockage/storage, boat maintenance, taxis, restaurants, provisioning, cruising permits, temporary importation, BVI Registry, financial services, etc., all because some employee at Immigration was having a bad day!! Switch to automated kiosks at entry ports!

  16. Ha says:

    I thought you would have loved the way the expats are treated, like beggers. You hate us with a passion. Glad you wake up and realise that you are providing a service and the way you do it ultimately reflects on you. A tap on the shoulder for you this time.

  17. Love Christian says:

    That’s why I always admire this man. It’s about time the is issue is address.. Treat people with kindness.. It wouldn’t take anything from you. We are all human beings and God sees and knows what expatriates go through especially at immigration department. Be kind and compassionate you’ll feel better at the end of the day.

  18. Mark says:

    So now when everything else fail its back to tourism.

  19. Open Sesame says:

    Ok. Open the borders and hiGH five everyone coming to the BVI and just let theme in.this man who not too long ago railed against expats now talking again. Work permit holders can’t vote. People who work in those department can.the eND game. This tune has been playing from the beginning of the sevice. It’s not going to change anytime soon. That’s the reality of this. Expats have options. Locals have options.

    • worker says:

      I don’t see no one here wanting the laws changed. The BVI need to make sure the right people are coming here like every other country and the laws as they are good. What is not good is the process. You pass all the checks before you get to the BVI but once you get here you made to feel that you are doing something wrong, that you should go home, that you don’t contribute to the BVI and it happens every year you go back to renew. This is what needs to change not the laws.

  20. Wake up says:

    The Bvi is not serious about tourism. Instead of Pickering studying the fowls and dogs in the place, take a visit to Cancun, Punta Cana, Costa Rica, Jamaica just to name a few and see the level of care that comes with Tourism there. We do think we got it all and feel persons must come to our shores. Airport Immigration, smile for goodness sake, be kind. There are a lot more favorable destinations that will welcome tourists with more than a smile. Just to let you know…..????

    • yup says:

      was thinking something similar just today

    • Hmmm says:

      Yes!!! Those islands are so welcoming. I’m from Tortola and the level of customer service is deplorable. I have hung up the phone a few times, because of rude customer service. If you’re visiting my island you should feel welcome. A few of these gov’t offices need to take lessons from the Social Security Board they have the best customer service on the island!

  21. Mrs trenchbull says:

    This needed addressing a long time ago. At the port of entry the female officers sit with their neon colored weave n braids (so unprofessional) want to talk to you like you are their kids. Only waiting for pay day. Please change your ways. Get some customer service skills and deliver service that you are paid for and what the public is paying for. 8 hours pay for 3hours work. Pull up you all socks please

  22. Cromwell says:

    Training has nothing whatsoever to do with this, these people know exactly what they are doing. Sadly it’s all too late, decent people both here and off island have a basically decided that the BVI has bought this all upon themselves, Customs, Immigration and Labour have treated people disgustingly for the last 20 years and the government’s, both current and past have allowed them to operate with zero accountability or discipline. It’s all over.

  23. The Nation #1 says:

    Archie, I have to give to you…this is the second public statement that I have heard from you post-Irma that I agree with. And you are tackling some ‘tough’ issues…first you intimated that we should make it legislatively clear that gay marriage is not legal here and next this…you will get knocked for it…but what you have said is 100% correct. I applaud you for standing up and standing out for principle. Keep it up and you just might get my vote come next election. God bless

  24. The Nation #1 says:

    And the problem is not only in the Labour and Immigration Departments…it is virtually in ALL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS, OFFICES AND AUTHORITIES…BVIslanders have operated far to long in this xenophobic ideological mindset and have told themselves that this is acceptable…that this is an ideal…it is not…especially when you call yourself a “Christian” nation…at nation under the Almighty God…when you read the Books of Moses however you see that God says that we are “not to oppress the strangers in your land” because…BVIslanders were once strangers in this land too….I’ve lived here for many years…and no matter how law-abiding you are, no matter how much contribution you make, you live peacefully with the natives…you get your residency and then citizenship…you give blood at the hospital…it’s never enough…you are still treated as an outsider…when you make applications (trade, for a Government job…where-ever)…they see your last name and say…oh he not ‘born here’…and you are immediately shut out and shut down. This is a new Era though…if we can’t be ONE BVI…then those folks who continue to be xenophobic will see just how important the expat population are to the recovery and development of this Territory

    • exactly says:

      You read my mind. Non-BVILANDERS get treated like dogs even when they do the right thing and try to maintain peace and love.
      All you hear about is that they come to the BVI to work to send home all the BVI money (not their hard earned money).
      And while in some cases that is true, I dont see anything so wrong about that. People migrate for many many reasons but once you come from elsewhere you are treated like you have no right to be here.
      Because you arent “Bahn” here.
      Offices in all sectors you’ll find, many extremely unpleasant (im not kidding) workers, their tones are rude, not a smile on their face, and you get pushed around like a ball.
      If I were to list all of the instances where I was mistreated vs good treatment, the bad experiences will definitely out weight the good, however I am thankful for so many of the experiences , good and bad because its definitely showed me that it does not take away anything of yourself to be kind, NO MATTER WHAT the situation.

  25. Damage says:

    Archie you all are going to damage this country completely instead of you all straighten the security of this country you’ll just bringing down. Stop it you need to stop it. Archie you’ll need to pray stop and think.

    • Richard says:

      You’re an idiot. You are the problem, not the solution, your country is going down the toilet. Do yourself a favor, put your lead boots on and go for a swim 🙂

  26. Easy to Fix says:

    1. Mandatory name tags for all government workers

    2. Install cameras at all port of entry trained on the officers

    3. Install cameras on all customer services desks

    4. Review the videos with the employees on a regular basis. Sometimes people need to really see and hear how they look and sound

    5. Utilize the videos captured on camera for evaluations and promotions or lack thereof and penalize the supervisors

    6. Place a complaint box at the exit of each department. Encourage visitors to rate their experience

    7. Create a review category for each department online. Poor reviews means change in management

    8. That’s a start. Bet they shape up.

  27. Maggie says:

    …and the phone lines for making an appointment still do not work……

  28. what you don't realise says:

    What yo all don’t realise is BVIslanders treat other BVIslanders this way too. BVIslanders just naturally WEIRD…Lol…some of us anyway..lol

  29. Charnele says:

    Kindness must start at home. When that is done the schools would not have to do that. If the BVI is a Christian society then they should know how to treat others whether you from here or not. The golden rule treat others the same way you want to be treated.

  30. Smh says:

    It’s about time!

  31. Hmmmmm says:

    While I agree with you Archie the same people you fighting for once they get season in act worst than the locals they complain about

  32. JohnJay. says:

    Archie,much respect but the BVI cannot give anymore respect unless it becomes a full fledged doormat.
    Preach to the majority of the inmates at Balsum and the perpetrators that are clogging the courts. Speak to the parents of the out of control students.The police force has been quadrupled and is still inadequte.How many dollars does the BVIspend to maintain civility. Did u see the footage of the looting during and after the disaster. The prostituion.Deportation en masse like Europe and the UK would be respected. The BVI is a victim of its own generosity and if anything is gained from the hurricane and the uk latest decision it could be a purging of the uncivil and ungrateful whose presence carved a human septic depository in these islands.

  33. Humble yourself says:

    Everytime I come back to the BVI I experience the rude behavior for Immigration and people in general. No I’m not a citizen, but I grew up in the BVI so it did not surprise me. With that said, I thought that humility would be the one good thing that Irma brought. But even after the worse hurricane in history many people remain as prideful as ever. As amazing and beautiful as the BVI is, it’s not the last bottle of water on Earth. There are other places to go and if you’re not careful people will leave. Not only that, they will be a testimony against the BVI wherever they go. And for a country that depends almost entirely on tourism, it’s not a good look.

    Now whether you believe these people should not be here and should be deported is your opinion. If you’re a citizen of the country you are fully entitled to believe that and you shouldn’t be crucified for it. But that doesn’t absolve you from having to treat people with decency and respect.

  34. Kudos says:

    I am not from here but deal with both departments frequently and I find the staff helpful, courteous and resilient given the conditions they have been working in since Irma. The processes need to change and a more streamlined system implemented as they have been taking about for past year or so and the whole BVI forward project. When people have to wait for hours in no air conditioning and standing up that is uncivilized and takes its toll on business in terms of lost revenue. So let’s focus on the real issue and give some of those workers a break.

  35. Jane says:

    The Immigration is antiquated and although I do think a lot of the officers enjoy the power trip I also think that the system is so chaotic it creates hell for them. Can I please offer public praise to two officers I have dealt with this year who have been helpful, professional and efficient: Officers Rouse and Smith. They are a credit to their office. Here are a couple of positive suggestions:
    1. Transparency: have a proper website which sets out what the rules and process are. Current processing times should be included and adhered too. This website should have all the most common forms required available to download
    2. Digital records: why oh why in 2018 are Immigration processing thousands of work permits on paper, no wonder the system is slow! It doesnt need to be a complicated system or expensively designed by some well connected consultants.
    3. End the arbitrary short-deadlines given. These create an unnecessary pressure for the Officers as well as an unnecessary expense for persons required to pay for extensions simply because the Labour Department havent processed the renewal on a timely basis.
    4. 3 year work permits. These are permitted by the Labor Code. Please roll them out otherwise it looks like the government is keeping the process unnecessarily cumbersome in order to keep people in jobs to deal with annual renewals.
    5. Designate an officer to deal with each customer and tell us who that is (with their contact email address and direct number). We often get told one thing by one officer, then something contrary by another. No-one wants to help and no-one wants to take responsibility.
    6. Complaints procedure: I would personally be scared to complain currently for fear of reprisals.
    7. Stop the pointless requirement for persons to make an “exit”. I have seen this many times this year with persons returning after Irma having resided here for many years, being made to go to St Thomas for the day. WHY? Going to St Thomas is very expensive and for people traveling with kids it is stressful and tiring. This requirement really smells like power tripping.
    8. Realistic medical tests. OK so some improvements were made recently but they are still really stupid (for example, no HIV test is required, but a VD test is). Why are persons on a work permit who are off island for more than a month potentially required to re-do their medical tests on return. This isnt a public health strategy clearly because tourists and BVIslanders arent required to do so. It has caused significant upset to long term residents to be forced to spend $350 or so at Peebles to have them (and their children) re-tested. The cynic in me thinks this is just a money making wheeze and a way to ensure that migrant workers know their place.
    8. Belonger / non-belonger: this description is really upsetting and discriminatory. To be made to feel like you don’t belong is horrible when you have lived in a place for years, children born here, perhaps have bought a home here, cleaned debris after the hurricane, support local charities, have many wonderful BVIslander friends. Language is powerful, and whilst it may seem like a small thing, it really informs people’s perception, both BVIslanders and those of us not fortunate enough to have been born in these beautiful, precious islands.

  36. Customer Service says:

    “Treat people better” would have been a more favourable statement, Honorable Christian. “People” of all ilks, because it’s all about “Customer Service” which has gone down the drain. There are ‘insiders’ getting worse treatment than ‘outsiders’, all are people who deserve to be treated with respect. Not only in the government sector, but private as well.
    The other day I witnessed in the biggest supermarket on the island, a cashier who collected the money from the customer and moved on to another, without bagging the items. and when the customer asked if she wasn’t going to bag them, the cashier said some customers help themself…so maybe helping ourself to whatever has become, or is becoming the norm.

  37. topdestiny 14 says:

    PEOPLE BE YE ALL CAREFULL. WATCH YOU WORDS. REMEMBER WE JUST HAD AN DEVASTING HURRICANE.WE COULD HAVE ALL BEEN DEAD. THAT WAS A PEICE OF EDUCATION. DIDN’T YOU ALL LEARNT SOMETHING.

    THE NEXT ONE WILL BE WORST.

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