BVI News

Imported workers deserting employers for higher paying jobs

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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  1. Um says:

    How is it possible to just pick up and leave their employer? should this have been considered when drawing up the policy? Can we get anything right in this country!

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    • duck1951 says:

      Agreed fully . For that matter they should be swiftly deported and barred future entry . those employers should be fined accordingly .

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      • Gordaguy2 says:

        The problem is not with the workers but with the salary you are paying – a well seasoned construction worker should be charging 50 bucks an hour.

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        • Florencia says:

          The final effects drives construction costs to rebuild. The spirit of GREED is moving in heavily in this territory. This will generate a chain reaction that will affect the entire Construction Industry and hence affect the recovery process and impede the home recoveries. We are all trying to capitalize on the very thing that has affected us so greatly as a country no matter who gets hurt. So SAD!!

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      • 'Imported Workers" says:

        What an offensive term?
        What the employers want to do is to ‘import’ people and then use the fact that the employer holds the work permit to force them to work for less than the going wage for the job.

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    • Take this job and shove it says:

      It’s easy to for an employee to leave and employer by just being absent. It happens all over the world everyday even here in the overly regulated work force of the BVI

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    • VI gyal says:

      This has been going on for years. It just use to happen when things are slow and they go and work elsewhere but these that just come in need to come and do what they suppose to do, else go out the country. Those persons should be held responsible else they spoiling it for others.

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    • OZYMANDIAS says:

      You all such nasty people here! How about compete with wages offered. How bout matching it instead of trying to SCREW YOUR IMPORTED WORKERS OVER. Nasty people here. GLAD FOR THOSE IMPORTED WORKERS. GET YOUR WORTH! CAUSE TOLIANS DON’T ACCEPT LESS FOR THEMSELVES!

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  2. @um says:

    You ever see a piece of paper stop anybody from doing anything? If the employer complains then labour needs to investigate and do the necessary. There is no need for a new policy just enforecement of our laws. Worst if they have contracts with bhsinesses and just disregard and do as they please.

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  3. better deal says:

    That’s why it is called a free market and not slavery. Don’t blame the workers for taking a better paying job, blame the person who is offering them a better deal!

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    • Exactly says:

      We on the same page. I’m reading all these comments and i’m like really you are going to blame a man for being loyal to his own self than an employer who will fire him in a heart beat. If you dont want him to leave then pay him more.

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      • Strupes says:

        Like most places in the world if you are imposed and bonded by an employer you have to work for said person unless you are being treated unfairly. Wanting $40 more is not being treated unfairly when you agreed to a salary of $110. until some of you run businesses you will never understand and come on these blogs and continue to make the BVI like it full of twits.

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      • Island Man says:

        Best comment ever, congrats on your understanding.

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    • duck1951 says:

      You have a point . However the sponsor should be recompensed for their time and expenses ? Right ?

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  4. Right to work says:

    Why don’t the locals go work for $100 a day? I think the Territory should get rid of all expat workers and do everything themselves. Let’s see how that works out. Look who wants to be slave Masters now. Force the expat to work for peanuts while the locals sit drinking beer under a tree.

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    • @Right to Work says:

      Why dont you shut your a$$ isn’t it local contractors you all 99.99% of the time you all does come work for and they have to show you all how to do things.

      Most time if they dont show up on the job for the day when they come you all doing wrong. Sometimes it looks good but crooked.

      Locals can do things you all should be grateful. When the Government even mentions that they would put down policies limiting the number of permits you all can get you all go into a fit.

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      • @@right to work says:

        I suggest that prior to writing your next comments you return to school and learn how to compose a proper sentence. Your comments might be worth reading if they were understandable.

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  5. son of the soil says:

    All those ungrateful island man need sending back

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  6. Political Observer (PO) says:

    Where to start on this evolving issue? Nuff questions? Is the territory a right work to right territory? If so do not employers have the right to hire and fire employees? Similarly, do not employees also have the right to quit an employer and work for whom they want? Was the policy poorly written with too many loop holes? Is the policy being enforced? All/some of the foregoing may true but imported workers and employers must abide by the signed contract. Locals also have to abide with contracts.

    True, earning $40, $50……etc more per day is a great motivator to jump ship. All of us want to make more money to provide our families a better quality of life and standard of living. However, the terms and conditions of an employment contract must be adhered to by both employer and employee. The MLNR must ensure that employment contract(s) is adhered to. The bonded employees can jump ship when their contract ends or their current employer release them to work for another employer.

    By the way, why are construction contractors and other employers still paying employees by the day? Elsewhere, employees are either hourly or salaried. Either way, there must be standards of performance. Day work is not as productive and so yesterday. Do day workers milked work to stay employed longer, driving up cost to customers. Hourly work with standards are more effective. Of course, contract work is even better, for time is money for contractors. The longer a contractor stays unnecessarily on the job the lower his/her profit.

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    • OK but says:

      Interesting comments but there are two issues of concern: one is the part about “ locals abiding with contracts” in a place where locals trump expats, and generally suffer few consequences for breach of contract. The second issue I see here is that people need to pay living wages instead of trying to pay as low as possible. Good help is hard to find, and when you do pay them more than anyone else, or else they’ll be looking elsewhere.
      Completely agree with your comments on day labor rates. Owners pay by the day but seldom get a day’s work. Part of the problem here is that most contractors don’t seem to understand the concept of time and materials as well as production rates. Many come witn prices they cannot justify. To me, this is something that could be taught in high school math class. And it’s not hard to track productivity, or to keep tab of operating costs to keep sharpening the saw as in being more efficient. Alas, these are not principles that contractors want to readily accept. They just want to make as much money as possible instead of generating reasonable but sustainable profits, and being able to account for prices. Thus, the push to pay as little as possible. At the end of the day, one generally gets what one pays for.

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  7. any bets? says:

    All ah dem going stay here

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  8. Wellsaw says:

    But I mean this is why you elect people so they can properly put things together with policies of enforce punishment.

    If things go wrong and he well knows these things have been going on for years=. They come in and work with their employees for a year. Sometimes the employees do all sort of things to please them.

    But then as intended they go and work for somebody else. When the original employer had the stress to bring them here and find a place to stay. They never intended to stay.

    Especially if they have friends or family here before.

    Why is this news he should put down his foot down and have immigration deport them. The buck stops with the Government we are tired of officials like they afraid to offend these people.

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  9. Cryix says:

    Employers must all share part of the blame, as some of the workers are not been paid what was promised to them.
    Employers are also using some of these workers to do work that has nothing to do with hurricane restoration.
    The minister needs to do a better job of investigating.
    There also companies fronting pushing out locals, they pay no NHI or payroll taxes.
    I will say no more.

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    • PO says:

      @ Ok But, construction prices in the BVI are highly inflated. Contractors, it looks like put a finger in the wind to determine prices; they do not do proper estimation to arrive at a fair and reasonable price for consumers, ie, labour, material, equipment, special services, overhead, profit…..etc. The consumer gets shafted and exploited to the hilt. Competition should bring fair and reasonable pricing. But what competition? Greed is common place. By the way, the following is not a criticism. IMO Time and Material (T&M) contracts are typically used primarily for emergencies, for they put customers at a disadvantage.

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  10. what's the fuss says:

    I am here smiling. If employers understood the meaning of the immigration bond, then they wouldn’t complain. The solution is simple. If an employer is not reporting to work, you turn them in to labour and immigration stating that the job has been abandoned and did not authorize the employee to work elsewhere. Immigration Department then has a right to pick them up and order them out of the country. Simple

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  11. Brad Boynes says:

    They need the hill man in the mix. He gets results in a fair manner. Entry Permits have conditions and restrictions all who working for some one who did not bring them in this Territory should be asked to depart foreign. Entry Permits can be cancelled under current immigration law. What ishould the current acting joker doing?

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    • solution says:

      so if employers do not notify Immigration or Labour, then who to blame. Once immigration knows, they good at rounding them up. They can also do more spot checks and show up on worksites, ask for work permit cards. If they on a job that aint the boss own, then every man have a return ticket.

      I heard the rant in HoA yesterday and I couldn’t believe that was the minister of labour going on. You got the power, use it. The labour and immigration laws have not changed

  12. The Observer says:

    I can’t blame them immigrant workers. BVI companies treat immigrants like garbage, pay them next to nothing and longer working hours and they feel threatened by the work permit issue. No sense of true mobility and freedom here in the BVI. Whatever dream or delightful fantasy people have of coming here they should be warn. Just a bunch of hypocrites who extort people from poor countries. I have seen it too much time and I feel for them.

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    • speak what you know says:

      I am an immigrant worker and me and my fellow workers are treated with respect by our employer. We all feel like family and he looks out for us. He pays us on time and he is completely fair. Even if we want a pillow or a pot, a bed or a chair, he picks it up and give us once he has extras with no demands. Once he know of our birthdays, he has on about 2 times did cook up at his house and invite all of we to come and enjoy we self. We even cook some goat soup and thing so. He treat us like royal. All him ask us is to do his work.

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      • @speak what you know says:

        Don’t forget in all his generosity that you can also give a little extra too if you don’t do so already. Show some appreciation too.That is where some immigrants go wrong, they are treated like this and then end up extremely ungrateful and disrespectful. If you have a good boss, value them as they could have hired someone else.

    • Brad Boynes says:

      @The Observer…you are talking utter garbage bull nonsense. You need to shut your A$$ up now.

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  13. Vacation says:

    Some are coming on vacation and are working.

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  14. truth says:

    I always believe there are 2 sides to a story. Did anyone speak to the other side? NO. People are brought here and promised a certain pay and when they done work. They aint getting what was promised. Contractors see an opportunity to skim off their workers and then they have the gall to put 10-12 of them in an apartment like animals. People should be treated fairly no matter where they come from. They need us and we need them, so don’t act like this aint true. who going do the work? u lazy a$$ sons bumming around the place riding on scooters and smoking weed. Minister pls investigate before you do anything. Don’t take their word for it.

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  15. Solution says:

    Immigration and Labour commissioners the ball stops with you. Do aggreasive site visits. Who’s the contractor, show mebyour work permit, those legal stay, those working on their own without employer permission or part time work permit, your time is up. Time to go.
    If workers are not treated right, there is nothing holding you hostage. You come from somewhere and you’re free to return. Only o****** does hold the filipino them passport and got them doing anything and everything.

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  16. Agreed says:

    No risk of disease
    Perfect fit and rhythm
    No risk of pregnancy with or without a raincoat
    Always ready and available
    No dumb conversation and chupid accent

  17. Ausar says:

    “Ozymandias”, you’ve hit the nail on it’s head.

    In a similar manner that BVIslanders want others to respect their careers and offer remuneration accordingly, respect the careers of contracted workers and offer comparable salaries.

    One hundred fifty(USD) per day is rather cheap since here on this side of the Virgin Islands(US), persons can pay four hundred(USD) or higher for similar services.

    Count your blessings, BVIslanders. It’s never good to look a gift horse in the mouth!

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