The Department of Immigration needs to beef up its surveillance of companies that hire foreign workers on short-term work permits, as the Department of Labour tries to investigate reports of repeated extensions on those short-term permits, Director of Labour John Pinder yesterday charged.
Pinder said his department continues to receive complaints of developers on various projects in The Bahamas cays that frequently apply for extensions to short-term permits for some workers; and in some cases, apply to make those permits long term without having ever gotten a labor certificate.
“The system is, if an employer wants to bring in persons on a short-term basis – 90 days or less – normally that work permit is granted by immigration without them receiving a labor certificate,” Pinder said in an interview with Guardian Business.
“But we’ve discovered that they keep getting extensions and we’ve received several calls from persons on the cays where employers are terminating Bahamian workers but keeping foreign workers, then bringing new foreign workers and saying that these are short-term jobs. We need to do more investigations on that.”
Pinder said while he doesn’t know the role the Department of Immigration is playing in these cases of repeat extensions, that department “needs to tighten up”.
“I think they need to do more surprise inspections, or do more investigations on these persons who are saying that these workers are only coming in short term and keep extending it. I think they need to get a little tough on that policy,” he said.
“The important thing is, immigration and the Department of Labour have to work together to really bring some resolution to these issues that we’re faced with as it relates to work permits and persons abusing or circumventing the system.
“Maybe all the persons who want to work in The Bahamas should come through the Department of Labour for us to ensure you’re not saying you’re coming here for 90 days and you stay longer. That also cuts into the government revenue because now when you should be paying for a work permit for a year or two or maybe even three years, now they just pay for these little extensions.”