March 15, 2008
While Contractors on Nevis were commended for their sustained outstanding work they were urged to continue to produce and to take advantage of the opportunities created for them under the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) led Nevis Island Administration (NIA).
The praise and words of advice came from Mr. Ashley Farrell Cabinet Secretary when he addressed a number of local contractors at a workshop. Mr. Farrell represented the Minister of Labour on Nevis who was at the time off island on other government duties. The half day event was hosted by the Department of Labour on Wednesday March 12, at the Red Cross Centre in Charlestown.
“I wish to commend you for the very outstanding work you continue to produce. This NRP government supports you, we want to see local construction firms expand into mega companies and in this regard I wish to inform you that several projects will be coming on stream later this year and it is anticipated that job opportunities in the construction field for at least the next three years will continue to increase.
“I urge you the builders of this fair land of Nevis to take advantage of the many opportunities which are being created by your government. Make sure that you get a good piece of the action. This is the vision of Premier Parry’s Administration which is seeking to make life better for all Nevisians,” he said.
According to Mr. Farrell, the government wanted to see a Nevis where peace, progress and prosperity prevail. He told the workshop participants that the ball was in their court and further challenged them to continue the proud legacy of Nevisian contractors past and retired such as Boston Brookes, Samuel Hunkins and Grevil Weeks.
He also told the contractors they had a very critical role to play in the development of Nevis, as the Administration sought to continue the rapid advancement of Nevis’ economy but told them that meant a new way of thinking by persons in the construction industry.
The Cabinet Secretary pointed to a need for a commitment to training and the acquisition and or improvement of skills at all levels of the industry.
“I would also want to see “¦ improvement throughout the industry for instance I would like to see more construction workers being able to read plans that is being able to understand the blueprint . This should not be a skill just for the boss and or the foreman. Another area in need of improvement is the area of estimation. Quite often, home owners are caused considerable expense because of poor estimations. I would also like to see contractors and their workers make use of technology.
“You should find new ways of doing things but always, always follow the building regulation and of course you and your workers must always ensure that your clients get good value for money.” he said.
On the issue of non nationals in the local workforce, Mr. Farrell indicated that the construction sector accounted for most of those workers and reminded the contractors that there were a number of guidelines with regard to work permits which had not been observed in relation to non nationals.
“By law all non nationals who wish to work on Nevis must first obtain work permits; non nationals who work while here on vacation are breaking the law; all employers who wish to employ non nationals must apply to the Premier’s Ministry for work permits before the non nationals commence working; non nationals who are to be employed should not be on the island while the application is being processed that is first time applicants. In case of renewals, this provision does not apply,” he said.
Mr. Farrell impressed on the Contractors that work permits are issued to the employer not the employee.
“The employer is responsible for the payment of the work permit fees and work permits are issued for employment with a specific employer and are not transferable,” he said.
With regard to the issuance of work permits, the Cabinet secretary explained that the time frame for their approval varied and was dependant on demand of the workforce and skills.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Farrell noted that the Administration to issue permits to skilled workers who the local workers could benefit from.
In light of these guidelines, he called on the Contractors to comply with the law and get work permits; that they should not have undocumented workers on their jobs since they could be picked up by immigration officials at any time.
“Do not employ non Nevisians simply because you can pay them less or lower wages than you would have to pay Nevisians. Do not force non nationals to pay for their work permit it is against the law,” Mr. Farrell said.
Chief Labour Officer Mrs. Averil Williams said the workshop was designed to bring together to discuss some of the problems they had been encountering on their job sites and to help them to find a way to address those problems and also to remind them of the island’s labour laws.
Labour Officer Mr. Carlisle Hobson and Mr. Davidson Morton also addressed the contractors.