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I’m not against persons coming to work in the BVI - Wheatley

I’m not against persons coming to work in the BVI - Wheatley

Labour & Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley has insisted that he is not against immigrants coming to work in the BVI but is instead simply trying to ensure that locals have a fighting chance in the territory’s labour force.

Minister Wheatley said he is cognisant of the fact that the BVI won’t always find all of its labour pool from among its local population, but said officials have to do everything they can to make sure that all locals are employed.

“We have to do it, we must give our people a fighting chance. I’m not against anybody coming into the country [to work],” the Labour Minister said in the House of Assembly recently.

He added: “If we continue to give out work permits willy-nilly, and our people are still at home watching persons go into work, I tell you it is going to create a problem down the road.”

Wheatley said he’s been told in the past that he was fighting a losing battle, but the minister said he pushed back and asked if he’s fighting for his people, how can it be a losing battle?

Uproar in the marine industry

According to the minister, there has been an uproar in the marine industry “where they can’t hire enough boat captains on work permit”. But the minister again countered this narrative and said there are local boat captains that are sitting down and not working.

“How can that be right? How can I just give you a boat captain’s license like that and I have local persons here sitting down, not working? That is not sustainable,” he argued.

Wheatley said even though there are problems with the Labour Department, it continues to work through its challenges.

Give poor local workers third and fourth chances

The minister said he commended all the companies that have taken the initiative to continue to hire local staff and to give them opportunities and chances.

He said persons have given him stories about locals not wanting to work and not showing up for work after being paid. However, the minister urged employers not to dismiss them.

“I’m saying give them a second, third, fourth chance. We cannot ignore our people,” Minister Wheatley stated.


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