Construction workers imported into the territory under the post-hurricane Skilled Workers Programme are abandoning their employers for better-paying jobs.
Labour Minister Dr Kedrick Pickering has therefore called for a review of the policy governing the programme, which allows for needed skilled workers to enter the territory through a ‘special variation’ of the work permit process.
The abandonment issue is primarily plaguing the construction industry and Dr Pickering said he has received letters of complaints from about one dozen local contractors last week alone.
“What is happening is that persons are coming in and one day they’re working for somebody [who is] paying $100 a day – the person who brought them in. But ‘John Brown’ realized they (the imported worker) are a skilled worker and so they offer him $140 to come work for them. So, the people don’t show up on the job they are supposed to show up on and they go work for somebody else,” Dr Pickering said.
“What was intended to be something very positive in the overall redevelopment and recovery arena where we brought in the skilled workers is now snapping back and biting us. I’ve said in Cabinet to my colleagues: it is time for a review of the policy,” he added.
Cost of construction still rapidly increasing
The labour minister also raised the issue of the increasing cost of construction services locally.
He said he now fears that these escalating costs might stunt the territory’s recovery process.
“When you were expecting to pay somebody $100/$110 a day, all of a sudden you can’t get anybody to work unless you’re paying $150 a day.”
“It is literally going to drive the cost of construction so high that we are going to kill the very recovery that we are trying to do … That is one of the downsides. Just like the insurance premium going up, we are going to have to confront [this issue] and deal with [it].”
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