BVI News

Round pegs in square holes at Labour! Some people need to be moved

Labour Minister Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull has protested what he described as ‘round pegs in square holes’ at the Labour Department, leading to a delay in the processing of work permits.

During a recent press conference, Turnbull said he had a conversation with Premier and Finance Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley about being able to secure funding to hire additional staff for the department. 

But the minister said the challenges faced by the department are not just about staffing but are also about some of the systems that are in place.

“And some of the persons that we have … need to be shifted and moved from where they are. There are a lot of round pegs in square holes and we have to address that,” Turnbull said.

Apart from additional staff that will be hired, Turnbull said, there will be training that will be done in partnership with SHRM VI and Hire BVI and other companies.

Bottlenecks and duplication

Turnbull also said there were some bottlenecks in the Labour Department which he suggested may have been caused by the fact that only 19 staff members at the department are responsible for servicing a workforce of 19,000 persons.

According to the Labour Minister, he has met with every single member of staff of the department, including those on Virgin Gorda, about the challenges that were being faced.

“There is not a backlog on Virgin Gorda. There’s a backlog of work permits and applications in Tortola and there seems to be what I have identified and we have provided a report to the deputy governor as well as the governor … bottlenecks in certain areas. There seems to be duplication of efforts that continues to slow down the process,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull said even though this was the reality that faced persons doing business at the Labour Department, he was not making excuses about what was happening at the department.

Streamlining the process

In the meantime, the Labour Minister suggested that there has been a lack of communication between persons and companies who have applied for work permits and the Labour Department itself. He further said those are some of the things that his ministry has been working on.

“But what I see happening, based on the systems that are in place; we are now moving towards streamlining those systems,” Turnbull said. 

“There is a system where we still are pulling applications from the online system that was launched. So you understand that I can’t give a number outright of how many files or how many applications are backlogged. There is still a very big backlog within the Labour Department that we are working aggressively to address,” he added.

Turnbull said the team at the Labour Department now has a different directive in terms of how things are being streamlined and in understanding the cries of the public and the issues that are being faced. 

He also stated that the application process should not start if application forms are not completed when taken to the department.

Turnbull said he will be in a position to give the public an update on where department is very soon and on where it is likely to be within the next two to three months.



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  1. Reality Check says:

    It doesn’t matter how efficient Labour is if Immigration isn’t on board with speeding up the process. The part of Immigration that deals with work permits should be seconded to the Labour Minister so that once a work permit is approved Immigration has already finished their work and the passport is stamped all in the same visit.
    Customer service!

    Like 37
    Dislike 1
  2. Toilet paper says:

    You’re a round peg in a square hole. You have not shown me nothing but how deceitful you are since you have been in government. When I see you I see an opportunist who would do anything for power.

    Like 6
    Dislike 33
  3. FIRE FEH MITCH says:


    Like 2
    Dislike 43
  4. @ Toilet Paper says:

    Sounds like you are a round peg taking it personally that finally there is someone actively trying to do something about the department’s issues.

    Like 23
    Dislike 2
  5. oh my says:

    You people always like blaming the civil servants but most of the time is you the politicians who are not willing to make the changes to make the system works. as the COI said it is not the civil servants. several times proposals are made to the Government and it stays right there. I am tired of hearing you people, same old, same old.

    Like 10
  6. LOL says:

    It’s ‘PIG’ not ‘PEG’.. LOL!!

  7. Confused says:

    I don’t think the Minister quite understand what is happening here and in many other government departments. If you fix the issues how will these third-party entities that ‘help’ with permits and other issues make money? The situation is all by design, there is nothing wrong with the workers or the system, they all know what the hell they are doing. Glad you are paying attention and hope you resolve it. The labour issue is much more than BVI vs Expat, our economy, especially coming out of Irma and Covid depends heavily on it being done right.

    Like 7
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  8. Jim says:

    Wow. So he admits he has incompetent and idiotic people working there. Brilliant

    Like 6
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  9. Lack of Communication says:

    “The Labour Minister suggested that there has been a lack of communication between persons and companies who have applied for work permits and the Labour Department itself.”…… Too true – nobody answers their phones there; you can’t get to talk to anyone!!!!

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  10. I beg you says:

    Please I have a work permit in process, work quickly on it. Please I beg you

  11. Elsa says:

    There should not be 19,000 work permits in a territory of this size. Last time I was in Bermuda they had 1,200 and the population double the BVI’s.

    Like 12
    Dislike 4
  12. Cato says:

    The politicians are to blame for some of the mess because there are too many interference.

  13. redstorm says:

    When I thought of the Labour system it was design to provide a host for a workforce for BVI, in exchange for a fee. how hard can this be? that in the 21 century we are still discussing how to do data entry.

  14. Ting to talk says:

    By slowing down the frigging process. By sending people to her company to pay to process work permits. This is pure corruption. Conflict of interest.

  15. local says:

    regarding immigration!
    Why must someone who has been in the BVI for three years and has no status apply for a work permit without leaving yet someone who has been here for three and four years changes their permit must depart? This has to end immediately!

    Like 8
    Dislike 1
  16. local says:

    nobody protect us!

    Like 2
    Dislike 3
  17. WEW says:

    Don’t move them – FIRE them !

    Like 3
    Dislike 3
  18. Bizzy Bee says:

    M****n = THE Square Peg CLOGGING the Round Hole

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  19. @Jim says:

    There is nothing incompetent about the workers, they know exactly what they are doing. HR companies and others cannot make money off applications if the process works how it’s supposed to in the first place. We are so quick to play politics that we lose sight of what is really happening right before our eyes. How is it that you have the run-around when trying to get a permit but when you pay certain people to do it, they get it in record time while others wait months?

    Like 10
  20. Concerned says:

    well said!

  21. 19000! says:

    About half the population on work permits, thats insane! Local shops and restaurants paying immigrant labour $6 an hour is a huge issue – jobs that a high school leaver could do are jus not worth while and immigrants parent complain. Increase the min wage to $10ph and make these large local companies train locals

  22. @Elsa says:

    Do you know the breakdown of permits etc.? I’m sure there are not 19,000 ACTIVE work permits in the Territory because as usual we are decades behind with respect to statistics. When persons leave the Territory and do not return, like construction workers etc. do you think the employers inform Labour? Do they do any checks? They just make it up as they go. No way there are 19,000 active work permits in BVI.

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  23. @19000 says:

    This is the funniest s**t I have ever heard! You CANNOT force a private entity to do anything, that’s the problem. You cannot simply force businesses to pay more in wages simply because people want to be paid more. Government should cap the cost of staple goods in the country, bread, water, sugar etc. so that everyone can at least eat. While it is sad that some people work for $6 an hour what is the basis for increasing the minimum wage to $10? Do you know this also increases SSB/NHI payments for the business? So that business should increase all of these things while still giving you cheap goods and services? Wake up because you are dreaming if you think that’s how business works.

  24. @19000 says:

    How many of the population are dual citizens (British/US), move off to the US to study and then remain there for better paying jobs. So businesses here that put ads out for a gas attendant, waiter, cashier and other jobs where the base salary are lower and do not get any local applicants, they should just close their business or should they seek employees via the permit system?

  25. Exactly! says:

    The damn Territory has been sold out a long time ago. Greedy politicians and others who get fees for the quantity of processing. Time to set a limit of 7 years and implement the understudy program like back in the day.

  26. Start with... says:

    Making the staff members (ALL OF THEM INCLUDING THE MANAGERS) clock in and out of work (both in the morning and breaktimes)…. I think it will be pretty obvious why there are so many delays when you see the actual number of hours most of the employees in the department are in the office….

  27. @Elsa says:

    Bermuda has a very good education system. If our government EVER prioritized education for our citizens we may see a drop in the number of needed work permits… instead they focus on government handouts and unfortunately the lack of education means that most are content with the $5k they get for doing nothing and happy for the government to continue in this way.

  28. Go For It says:

    Happy to hear of the excellent job that VG branch has been doing, Tortola get on board. What is the breakdown territory wise re the 19000 work permits?

  29. Good but A bit late says:

    A lot of good hardworking individuals have left the territory. There will be more.

  30. Just a Thought says:

    In a country of 38,000 give or take, if imported labour is 19,000, it means the local populace is roaming the streets. Maybe Labour should throw away that rubber stamp and stop importing someone to pound every nail in a log. Yes, that’s right, our boys are running wild on bikes while labour of being imported and most of it in the construction field they learn on the job just like ours would. But they are given a chance. Somebody needs to look at this. Maybe it is you Hon. Turnbull. It’s 2022. Same ole, same ole is not going to work. everybody has to eat. Feed your own before you bring in somebody else or are they all only good to be left on the street to be recruited by the midnight workers?

  31. :) says:

    That is where the problem lies. 19,000 that’s insane. For comparison, the population of the BVI was 10,000 in the 90’s. That many work permits mean there’s a lot of money to be made in the BVI and a lot of opportunities. What are we doing to reduce the reliance on outside assistance? Work permits should only be issued in cases where nobody is qualified or there is nobody available.

  32. Simple says:

    VG Labour and Immigration are professional. Stern but friendly, efficient and proud. Everyone there sees a job needs to be done and does it. It’s really a simple process to the round pegs fitting into round holes and square pegs being put aside. If the job calls for a round peg and you’re not round the person who’s trying to force it through is the problem. Whoever running VG drinking lemonade while Tortola boss sucking the lemon!

  33. @@elsa says:

    You would be surprise of the number of illiterate people here on work permit.

  34. Man from the Valley says:

    Ello the last time I renew my wrk permit it took a year to process. The work permit was going to expire 2weeks after I paid for it, think they easy down in labour department, behaving like you begging them for a favor

  35. Smh says:

    Not only labour has round peg in square hole, immigration, police, prison, to name a few.

  36. Down2earth says:

    Round peg in square hole?? That sounds like a fit! Now, let’s look at square peg in round hole… it just wouldn’t happen!
    Fact – 1. There are excellent workers throughout government.
    2. The majority of the problems created in government are by the elected – they meddle and are clueless (square peg in round hole does not apply here).
    3. When problems surface, the elected start to throw shade on the civil servants.
    4. Civil Servants stay true to yourself and your jobs! Do what you know is right, just and honourable! (BVI News -If you feel that I’ve said anything incorrect here…)

    A native Virgin Islander to the Nth generation

  37. Shasha says:

    I have 4. As my primary job is my breadwinner but I also have the others in case I lose the other jobs. Redundancies built in.

  38. bvi eyes open says:

    I agree with the square peg in round holes, same problems is being faced by the RVIPF, overnight they put a set of bloke heads in position and all hell break loose, blokes who have a hard time recognizing their names on paper, please bring inn all the supt and CI from the uk, these blokes here cant even begin to cut it.

  39. Janet says:

    I thought Mitch was intelligent.

    The correct term, Sir, for what you wished to describe is: “Square Pegs In Round Holes.”

  40. Elegal says:

    This can only happen when you lazy locals decide to get a Job

  41. Hmmm says:

    We won’t be surprise the amount of illiterate people here on work permit. We are well aware. On the flipside, most of the litle boys on bikes roaming the street can turn a computer inside out and do so much more than some we are importing. The problem is work ethic. A man coming from a poor country to look for bread will work harder sometimes, but if these young men are recruited right out of school before they get accustomed to spending their days loafing, their skillset and work ethic can be properly charted. In the past before High School graduations were held, graduating students were gainfully employed. Now, they are competing with the Labour Department and their rubber stamp. I have no problem with persons migrating for a better life. What I have a problem with is when your own is being disenfranchised because of it. There has to be a middle ground. Every work permit cannot be approved and presently anyone can see that is what is happening. So therefore BVIslanders looking for work has to wait for months and months and cannot find anything.

  42. you cant live on $6pa says:

    is existing level, guessing non of the commentators have any idea what living on min wage is like

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