Labour & Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley recently called out some local employers who he accused of abusing expatriate employees then asking his ministry to have them deported.
“You [employers] bring them here, you abuse them; you’re going to fix that problem. It can’t work! I won’t accept abuse of any worker in this country. I don’t care where they come from,” Wheatley expressed.
He said in many instances, employers fire expat workers and refuse to pay severance or for the work they did.
Speaking at a recent sitting of the House of Assembly, the minister recalled one such instance for which he is personally aware.
“A lady called me last week in tears! This company here owe her money, make her go home and refuse to pay her. Totally appalling! This is an abuse of basic human rights. They have worked for you! Pay them! If you brought them here on your bond, pay them and then release them,” Wheatley advised.
Despite these incidents, the minister said there are many local businesses who are doing well by taking care of all their employees. However, he warned employers who are doing “bad business” that the government is watching and will take measures to stem their unethical behaviour.
He also acknowledged those who have been employing local staff. These local hires align with government’s ambition to have a BVI workforce that is compromised of at least 70 percent locals.
Weeks ago, he warned that limited periods could be attached to new work permits if businesses do not comply with government’s goal of transitioning the labour force to mostly local.
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