A poor recommendation from the labor director

Dear Editor,

I always understood that civil servants implemented government policy but did not publicly advocate or promote personal policy positions.

I also understand that civil servants are required to provide professional, reasoned and unbiased advice to the elected political directorate.

That advice is provided privately and confidentially. It may be adopted in whole or in part and it may be rejected.

Whatever the decision made by the political directorate on advice proffered by civil servants is not the stuff of public statements or at least it should not be.

I have no idea what John Pinder, director of labor, a former public servant and a former president of The Bahamas Public Service Union, understands his role to be.

Clearly, he is speaking with no appreciation for the subtleties required in the implementation of government immigration and labor policies.

Backlogs of unprocessed applications for labor certificates from his department are not bad enough; he now recommends that the immigration department require applicants for short-term work permits for specialists and other essential staff on short-term assignment, specifically put in place to reduce bureaucratic delays, provide the same labor certificate prerequisite as long-term permit applicants.

Does the director believe that Bahamian businesses that are unable to find suitably qualified Bahamians to fill a vacancy can afford to pay double their salary budget and pay for a work permit holder and an understudy?

Such a public proclamation by a senior civil servant while the government is seeking to build confidence in the economy and reduce the cost of doing business in The Bahamas is not in the national interest.

The director appears to have woken from a dream startled to discover that the labor ratio agreed in the heads of agreement concluded between the government and China Construction America (CCA) in early 2017 for the construction of The Pointe has never been adhered to.

It was patently clear to the general public throughout the construction of the project that the proclaimed agreed ratio of 70 Bahamians to 30 international persons (Chinese nationals) was not being observed.

In the early days of the present government’s tenure, futile efforts were made to finagle numbers to suggest that more Bahamians were engaged than was obvious.

Now, as the project nears completion and gets ready for a full-fledged opening, the director declares himself ready to ride in and save the day for Bahamian construction workers.

I expect that the government will not heed this thoughtless and damaging advice.

Indeed, it would be ironic if this FNM government were to adopt a failed, discredited and discarded PLP immigration policy.


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