Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bahamas: Unemployed Bahamians are 'unwilling to take on "menial" jobs from other Bahamians... as this type of labour is deemed "sub-servient" - says Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Brent Symonette

Unemployed Bahamians 'unwilling to do menial jobs'

Tribune Staff Reporter
Nassau, Bahamas

UNEMPLOYED Bahamians are unwilling to take on "menial" jobs from other Bahamians as this type of labour is deemed "sub-servient", according to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Brent Symonette.

Poor work ethic was said to be at the centre of complaints which - according to Mr Symonette - have "bombarded" the Department of Immigration and fuelled the appeal for foreign labour.

Mr Symonette said: "The complaints we often hear include, Bahamians refuse to stay on jobs for any length of time; Bahamians are not consistent workers; Bahamians' work ethics are poor - showing up to work late, leaving early.

"I wish to appeal to all Bahamians to give a day's work for a day's pay. I am not at all happy about giving work visas to non-Bahamians, but we must pull up our socks in the work field."

Mr Symonette concluded that the high demand placed on the Department of Immigration (DOI) for "maids, caregivers and handymen" is representative of an unwillingness by Bahamians to pursue this type of labour.

"What is strange is that more Bahamians are prepared to do this work in hotels and for private homes of wealthy expatriates, to a lesser degree."

Mr Symonette addressed work visa statistics during his contribution to the 2011/2012 Budget yesterday.

The DOI approved 1,714 work visa applications during the first three months of this year, 385 were denied and 50 were deferred.

"Oftentimes, the Board is criticised as approving too many work permits/visas," said Mr Symonette.

"Very little is said by the Department, or the public for that matter, with respect to the number of permits refused by the Immigration Board."

Mr Symonette added: "The Immigration Board only approves applications in instances where no suitably qualified Bahamians can be found."

Priority job areas approved for work visas included live-in help, handymen or labourers, maids, caregivers, gardeners and chefs or cooks.

Mr Symonette said: "The fact of the matter is Bahamians are not willing or prepared to work in the home of other Bahamians as maids, caregivers, and handymen. Bahamians see this as sub-servient."

Meanwhile, Mr Symonette noted that Bahamian workers continued to dominate the banking and hotel industries at all levels.

Unemployed persons were urged to register with the Ministry of Labour to ensure the data bank store by his department could compare with incoming job requests.

"This appeal is for all categories of occupation, including persons returning home with certificates, degrees, vocational specialists, etc," he said.

"Although a Labour Certificate is issued by the Department of Labour, I would very much like to give closer attention to all those unemployed or on a waiting list for employment."

The DOI is set to initiate the sole use of electronic identification (EID) cards next month. Approved applicants for immigration services such as work visas, residence permits, homeowner's cards, and spousal permits, will receive a machine readable card about the same size of a driver's licence. Biometric data can also be stored on the card where applicable.

More than 1,000 EIDs have already been issued as the officials anticipate the paperless system will improve efficiency and eliminate fraud.

"The EID system manages the application and issuance process from the moment an applicant applies for a permit or certificate until it is issued," Mr Symonette said.

"This allows for a more secured and systematic application and issuance process."

EID cards can be found in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and Exuma.

The second phase will include Eleuthera, Bimini and San Salvador.

June 02, 2011