Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024

Labour Department in shambles; A work permit took 1 year!- SFC

Labour Department in shambles; A work permit took 1 year!- SFC

The true challenges of the Labour and Workforce Department was revealed last month, December 2022, in the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) deliberations to examine the 2023 Budget estimates.

It was the Acting Deputy Labour Commissioner (DLC) Ms Althea Guishard who told members of the SFC that “the department is seriously short-staffed to the point where it is very difficult to function.”

Ms Guishard stated that they “really do need funds for additional staff.”

Currently, the Department has been neglected by the government, with many senior posts not filled for years. These include the Workforce Development Manager, Assistant Labour Commissioner, Labour Officers , Labour Protection Officer for Inspections, Labour Relations Officer to name a few.


Acting Deputy Labour Commissioner (DLC) Ms Althea Guishard told members of the SFC that 'the department is seriously short-staffed to the point where it is very difficult to function.'

Minister says he fighting for Department

The Minister for Natural Resources and Labour and Member of the Second District, Hon Melvin M. Turnbull, stated that since May 5, 2022, when he “arrived in the department, the longest work permit situation he has dealt with took 1 year.”

The Minister noted that he cannot “stress enough the importance of the resources needed to staff the Labour Department to deal with the demands.”

Hon Turnbull mentioned that the Acting DLC is holding the fort as best as she can, having the responsibility to do her work, the work of the Acting Labour Commissioner and also the Deputy Commissioner.

The issue of the current Labour Commissioner, Michelle A. Venzen McLean, is unclear at this time, as she was sent on leave- a move many see as victimisation.


Millions made from work permits

The public continues to complain about the poor services of the Labour Department; however, it is no fault of the staff, as there are no staff to do the work. Despite all of the issues, the department was still able to rake in some $6.9M last year in work permit fees.

The issue of the current Labour Commissioner, Michelle A. Venzen McLean, is unclear at this time, as she was sent on leave- a move many see as victimisation.

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