BVI News

Labour to get major overhaul, modernized processes

Department of Labour

The Labour Department is expected to undergo a major overhaul, Labour Minister Dr Kedrick Pickering has said.

The overhaul will include computerising sections of the Labour process and extending what can be described as isolated treatment to expatriates employed in senior executive positions.

“We are currently making provisions for senior executives’ work permits to be processed at the Ministry [of Labour] with a view to a quicker turnaround,” Dr Pickering explained.

He further said his ministry is “exploring the use of technology that will allow photos to be uploaded to the work permit card”.

Dr Pickering said this new order of business will eliminate the need for applicants to physically come to the Labour Department, particularly during the renewal process.

Reasons behind changes

The changes, the labour minister explained, are among recommendations from a consultant the ministry hired with support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The consultant’s mandate was to review and offer solutions to the current issues facing the local labour market.

Pickering further said the upgrade also ensures the ministry remains current as government moves to rebuild smarter, greener, and more efficiently.

Moreover, it also served to align local standards with international best practices across the board.

“For example, the Labour Code does not outline the steps to be taken during natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods,” he noted.

He continued: “It does not make provision for flexibility within the labour market, that is, enabling employees to work for another employer when their primary employer suffers a temporary or permanent shutdown.”

He said the ministry, in tandem with the Labour Department “will ensure that the supply of labour is commensurate with the level of development in all sectors of the economy while being sensitive and responsive to the needs of the labour market.”

The minister was at the time addressing Thursday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.

Skilled workers Programme

A total of 1,710 skilled workers, mostly in the construction industry, entered the territory after the onslaught of last year’s hurricanes.

Pickering said they came under the Skilled Workers Programme which was implemented to ensure that the necessary manpower was able to enter the territory in a timely manner.

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  1. Albion says:

    It is definitely a good thing that they are improving their PROCESSES (although I remain a little skeptical).

    But what they really need is to reform their POLICIES. They could solve a huge number of problems if they just:
    – allowed multi year work permits for longer term employees
    – did not require work permits for aid workers and other unpaid volunteers
    – allowed people to visit the BVI for very short periods on “work related” matters, like meetings, training or short jobs, without the need to get a full temporary work permit.

    The work permit regime is designed to protect local workers. Not to needlessly take up valuable time and resources from employers and Government for no good purpose. It needs reform.

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  2. Jane says:

    Both Immigration and Labour Departments suffer because mid-management staff are not empowered to be decision makers. Every cough, sneeze and fart needs to be signed off by the Labour Commissioner or the Chief Immigration Officer, this leads to a bottle-neck. Where there are discretionary powers let those experienced mid-managers be able to make decisions in accordance with the agreed policies and procedures. If the Officer needs to pass the decision up the chain of command, let them do so.
    Where the applicant is dissatisfied with decisions made by mid-managers, let there be. an appeal process .

    Please can there be some proper evaluation as to whether there is any benefit to make persons leave the Territory when changing permits/changing status. This causes heartbreak for families as parents are split up from their kids and partners as they are forced to leave whilst their status is regularised often for months on end (and no precise time scale is ever given). It creates economic hardship which benefits no-one (and hurts the BVI economy because those persons cannot spend any money here while they are off island). Why do we do this to people? They are not a security risk, often these people have been here for many years, their kids are born here, attend school here. Its a crazy, pointless position with zero justifiable benefit other than ensuring that ex-pats “know their place”. This is a human rights’ abuse and it disgusts me.

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  3. Rubber Duck says:

    Well said Jane. The wholesale abuse of human rights by Labour and Immigration is a national disgrace.

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  4. Hmm says:

    Modernizing with retirees at helm?

  5. Bogun says:

    The proposed modernization of Labour processes is not new news. It was meant to be happening before Irma. There might be slight differences in the plan this time but this looks like announcing an old policy as a new one. Actions speak louder than words. People are really fed up with this. Brand BVI is very low in the professional market.

    There are many expats that have given a large part of their lives to the BVI. There is zero recognition for that. Those people are changing their view. You lose them and the whole thing will fall apart.

    Labour and Immigration are the BVI.s fiscal cliff. You have to make these things happen not just announce them. No one believes it anymore.

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  6. Woe says:

    This government will never learn. They do not seem to be men who read and studies God,s words from the Bible.

  7. Just can’t execute says:

    I’m sorry but I do not trust Dr. Pickering to execute anything. He is just not a doer. He has been a Minister for two terms and I cannot see what he has done maybe except Brandy wine Bay beach which was an expensive fiasco. But of course he will never be asked a question about that project or the 9 million dollars spent on the airport research. His buddies in the opposition will give him a free pass.
    After 20 years representing Long Look, can you tell me what he has done to improve the lives of those people?

  8. Brad Boynes says:


  9. Blablah says:

    Modernized processes operated by the same outdated, lacky workers will yield the same results. Like putting a v8 engine badge on a prius and expecting it to run like a mustang.

  10. Virgin Islander says:

    Part of the process of the overhaul should be real statistics showing the percentage of workers across the territory, public, private, statutory bodies and all. The majority of V.I. Nationals are at home jobless and it has nothing to do with laziness nor incompetence. It is time for a Government who cares about the Nationals of this territory to make laws or make other provisions for the VI Nationals to be able to sustain themselves in these hard economical times. These challenges are going to be for quite a while and while I am not knocking any Expats, commonsense will tell anyone the Nationals of any Country MUST be taken care of. What has happened pre- Irma with the tourism Industry and some Statutory bodies where jobs are not advertised therefore locking out Virgin Islanders from opportunities in their own Territory is economical suicide and will have a negative impact on the lifestyle of a high percentage of Virgin Islanders and I have yet to hear Politicians nor aspiring Politicians address this. Ya’ll need to get outside your cubicles and get a reality check on what is really going on. Not wishing for it but being real, this territory will soon have a serious problem to deal with. Check the statistics of unemployed Virgin Islanders and deal with it.

  11. Ausar says:

    It’s obvious new leadership is needed at the helm.

    Leadership that puts Belongers’ FIRST


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