Labour shake-up will put systems and people in place for change
Minister of Labour Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull said the shakeup of the Labour Department will see systems and people being put in place to bring change to the department.
When Turnbull was first appointed as minister in May, he mentioned there would be a major shakeup in the Labour Ministry which would make people uncomfortable.
In today’s press conference, Turnbull said his statement came on the heels of a statement made by Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley after negotiations were concluded with the United Kingdom on the way forward.
“As it relates to the Labour Department, my comments were in that vein but now that I am in and I have meetings with the staff and continuously on a daily basis received complaints from members of the community – the business community. The shakeup is simply putting a system in place with the people that are necessary and the people that are there to help them understand the importance of what we do,” Turnbull said.
“It cannot be common, and it cannot just be accepted that we have persons in this BVI having working permits sitting in the office for a year, a year and six months and the longest I have heard is two years somebody is waiting on a work permit. That is unacceptable. You cannot have persons in the BVI who have been here 14 – 20 years working and because they have received an extension from Immigration while waiting for Labour to process their permits told that they have to leave and go back to their countries. That is unacceptable to me,” the Labour Minister added.
He noted that the current system that exists is not working and he is determined to change the way the system works. Turnbull said this involved streamlining the process and cutting down on the number of persons that have to go through the work permit process in the department.
“I believe within the Labour Department, the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner should be doing the heavy lifting to going out and having the conversation with some of these employers in the territory who deal with labour issues, that deal with things that are on a higher scale in terms of how we effect the employment force of the BVI,” Turnbull said.
“This country operates on a vision that was cast some 30 plus years ago by H Lavity Stoutt where we were educating our people, trying to take the high-level positions in the territory. We have moved away from that in some sense. We continue to educate our people but now when our people come from college and even here locally, we have no place to put them,” he added.
The minister said he must ensure a balance is created and that the Labour Department understands it is not only essential in the higher end of the territory’s economy but in the everyday working force.
“It is our job to beef up our communication aspect, the customer service aspect of it, the information that we have on what is required for a work permit, what is required when we change jobs, what is required when you change employment,” Turnbull added.