Statement by Fred Mitchell MP
Minister for Immigration
On Matters Arising at the Grand Bahama Shipyard
4 December 2016
Consequent upon a complaint lodged by the labour union for shipyard workers at the Grand Bahama Shipyard about recent occurrences between the union and management, the matter has been referred to the Department of Labour for investigation. A team, from the Department of Labour was dispatched to Freeport and a report is expected tomorrow.
The matter has also been reported to the Minster for Grand Bahama who is also investigating the issues arising.
I wish however to take this opportunity to give some general guidance to employers with regard to work permit holders in The Bahamas. Quite apart from the instant case in the shipyard and in Grand Bahama and without referencing it in any way beyond mention, there are in my view too many complaints from Bahamian employees around the country against employers in Abaco, Eleuthera, Harbour Island and New Providence of a similar nature to the Grand Bahama complaints.
I think that each expatriate employer should know that it is incumbent upon them to act consistently with the Code of Practice which is part of the Industrial Relations Act.
The Department of Immigration seeks to exercise its discretion in granting or rescinding work permits to include but not limiting itself to situations where the skill is not available in The Bahamas or where the individual is de facto the owner’s representative. This usually includes a Managing Director or President of a company or financial controller. However, implicit in any contract of employment is that employees will be treated fairly and with respect and not have any instances where they are stripped of their dignity.
Therefore any language which is abusive, inflammatory, racist, misogynistic or discriminatory is to be discouraged and is not acceptable. When a credible complaint comes to the Department of Immigration on such matters, they are routinely referred to the Department of Labour for investigation and advice. The Immigration minister may exercise his discretion in accordance with those findings.
The Department awaits the report on the situation in Grand Bahama and will continue to act in the best interests of the Bahamian public.