Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, Feb 06, 2023

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

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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