Statement by Senator Fred Mitchell, Opposition spokesperson on labour and immigration issues and Chairman Progressive Liberal Party
With unemployment reported and estimated to be as high as fifty percent, Bahamians were justifiably aghast to see the importation of foreign workers from Mexico ostensibly to replace Bahamian workers at a major tourism project in the Abaco Cays.
We stand with those Bahamians of goodwill in strong opposition to this.
There is the false narrative out there by FNM operatives that this has something to do with the heads of agreement signed with Baker’s Bay. All heads of agreement have a standard clause on work permits but it is always subject to the availability of Bahamian labour and it is always the final decision of the Government of the day. Today the FNM is the Government and they made a bad decision.
The PLP points out that when the Christie government negotiated the Heads of Agreement for the development at Baker’s Bay, the HOA component on terms and conditions on labour assisted greatly in creating full employment in Abaco. Such was our approach to protecting Bahamian workers.
This decision by the FNM is unacceptable and flies in the face of the stated immigration policy of Bahamianization advanced and practiced by successive Governments.
The Ministers of Labour and Immigration must make public statements on the Government’s policy rationale for what appears on the face of it to be a nonstarter.
It has always been the policy of the Progressive Liberal Party to offer Bahamians the job opportunities at the stated wage and allow them the first right of refusal.
This latest episode only entrenches this widely held feeling, belief and perception that Bahamians are being treated as second class citizens in their own country by their out-of-touch Government who really does not care about them.
The Government must immediately correct this.