27 June, 2007

Slave Labour

Slave Uprising. It was not Spartacus. But, it was an uprising. Today, Tuesday 26 June, in the afternoon, the workers at Viceroy laid down their tools on the hotel building site at Barnes Bay. They had had enough. They left their Spartan quarters and marched towards the Valley. They had heard that workers could complain at the Labour Department. Of the 500 plus slave labourers housed at Viceroy, there were only about 50 on the actual march.

By the time they had reached Lower South Hill, the police were out in force. Their progress to the Valley was blocked. They were told they could not march any further. They sat down under a tree.

They asked for water. Iwandai arrived with a microphone. He began to broadcast. Heartbeat Radio 107.5 FM carried him live as he described the condition of the workers halted under the blazing sun. Radio Anguilla played soothing music. Several of the workers explained that they were only being paid a fraction of what they had been promised when they had been recruited in India. They were forced to live in cramped and squalid conditions. Their rations were not nutritious or sufficient. Then, Lolita Davis-Richardson arrived on the scene.

She demanded they be allowed their freedom to march to the Valley to make their protest at the Labour Department. A crowd of Anguillians gathered. They loudly voiced their support for the Indian workers. They protested the police action in blocking the peaceful march to the Valley. The crowd was beginning to grow. Just in time, word trickled back. The Commissioner of Police had agreed that the Indians could exercise their right to go to the Valley. Concerned Anguillians offered them lifts in pick-ups and cars. The Indians left for the Valley. There was never any violence threatened or suffered. As I departed from the scene, I wondered how the protest would play out once they reached their destination of the Valley.

We must all be relieved that it was the exploited workers who made the demonstration.

We must all have been concerned that it was the Anguillian workers who had been laid off by the arrival of the cheap Indian labour who replaced them that might have become violent. It was appropriate that it was the Indians themselves who protested. It seems to have completely bypassed government ministers that slavery has been abolished in Anguilla since 1834. They have totally ignored the mantra of all previous governments: there will be no development in Anguilla except it is demonstrably for the benefit of the Anguillians themselves. No development, no matter how deserving or desirable, will be permitted except it is principally structured and designed to benefit Anguillians. Importing 500 Indian labourers, who were to be paid slave wages, in order to replace Anguillian workers, was demonstrably not to the benefit of Anguilla or Anguillians. Our government has lost its way. Our people were on the verge of losing their soul. It was the compassion of the ordinary Anguillian that redeemed our government today.


  1. Slavery on Anguilla.
    So this is where we are.

    I saw the group of workers sitting down at dusk.
    I saw Curtis Richardson ,
    I saw the Chief of Police there.
    The airconditioned busses, all too ready to carry the Indians back to Viceroy.

    I am so ashamed, I did not know.

    And was that not what the Germans said after the war? "I did not know". It was not good enough then and it is not now.

    I must do something.

    Bring drinks? Join the wait?
    What can I do now?

    This morning I am waiting for the Heartbeat radio news. 6.30 AM on 107.5 FM.

  2. Viceroy, too, were quick to say they did not know. The Indians work for our contractor, Carillon Construction, said Viceroy. We know nothing. We will investigate.

    Listen, Viceroy, I have a message for you. This is Anguilla. The people have much experience at being lied to. We don't want to hear that you are investigating. We don't want to hear about forming committees. We want to know what is going on and what you intend to do about it. Today. And we want to hear it from you. Not from the turncoat Curtis Richardson.

    Its not nice to see whats happening in Anguilla today.I thought the people in charge had more visoin to realise they were making a big mistake to support slave labour in anguilla.

  4. The people in charge had this to say in the 2005 United Front Manifesto:

    "Ensuring compliance with the labour and immigration laws, while permitting employed persons to achieve their full potential and just rewards for their work."

    Right. And when they try to walk peacefully to The Valley our leaders send their police goons to arrest them.

  5. Yes Anguillians the silent volcano has finally erupted. Questions have been asked and concerns expressed publicly and privately to our leaders ever since we learnt that an influx of Asian and oriental labour was to be imported into Anguilla for the ViceRoy and Flag Resort Properties. Un fortunately our government response to the questions and concerns was one indifference.
    From the very onset it was apparent to many persons that we were about to experience serious social and economic problems as a result of this new labour phenomena.
    Many of these problems were expressed yesterday by the workers themselves. The question one has to ask is why did our Government made this 180 degree turn thereby permitting the investors of these resorts to import this type of labour and under the conditions that they agreed to in so far as housing and wages. As a consequence it could have only impacted negatively on the Anguillian community. Immediately we became vulnerable to outbreaks of diseases of possible uncontrollable proportions as well as vulnerable to unemployment or wages lower than acceptable. The question is has our leaders benifiited personally from their actions or inactions on such a serious issue? Mr. Michell I have smelt and I am smelling the the stench of CORRUPTION and there is a need to probe deeply into this matter. Enough is enough Anguilla must be rescued from the clutches of this incompetent and greedy government for us and our childrens' sake.

  6. My husband and I have been visiting Anguilla for the past four years. On our recent trip in May, I stopped into the St.Regis sales office. When I asked how the development of the infrastructure (sewage, electricity, water, etc.) for the development was being handled, I was told "You Americans come down here for your week in Paradise. What do you care about the Anguillans? I said, we care! And we do. I later asked the parking attendant what the development was doing for them and she said, "Nothing!" How could the government let this happen? Where is the corruption, for we know it must be there.

  7. Government hired Seymour Hodge to smooth everything over and hush everything up at the interface between Viceroy and Government. I was disappointed that a man of his integrity would agree not only to cooperate but to conspire with such people. I was further disappointed that he has chosen not to communicate with the people -- his people -- about the various issues at Viceroy.

    And so the inevitable result of trying to keep the volcano from letting off steam is that it has exploded. You have some explaining to do, Seymour.

  8. The government of Anguilla is no more or no less corrupt than any other government. American companies use unseen "slave labor", they call it "out sourcing". Although the "slaves" are at the other end of the phone the result is the same in the economy, loss of jobs for Americans.

    I'm more interested in the comment "the police were out in force." Why can't they be out in force at midnight on the beaches to stop drug smuggling? Or out in force to stop crime on the island. Talk about corruption!

    Will these Indian workers and all other workers be made to leave the island when their work is done?

  9. How come I had a friend from one of the caribbean islands visiting me, living in a proper house, fed properly, returning a visit to
    Anguilla because my family visited them. My friend had a whole unit in my house for herself. How come the immigration refused the extension but, this castrophy is allowed to happen with these Asians workers and nothing is said about this. Labour and Immigration is just a sell out, lame duck leaders, that is why they were put in these positions, these are their followers. What a shame. Play your roles. I do not emphatize with them, they care about the positions have no back bone stand up or give up.

  10. I spoke to Marcel Fahie some time ago, and I told him that the government is not for the people, I believe that Antil is an Anguillian body mainly, so why can't we support them it is the Anguillians that have made the resorts. I am in favor of Anguillians owning any business on this island, but the fact of the matter is that the government do not care. Their stoogies will always be used. Go head and think that your positions will always be protected. There is a superior government in Anguilla. Close down Labour and Immigration, you have failed us miserably.

  11. Curtis Richardson is the PR, what is the story now Curtis.

  12. I am proud at the way Anguillians came together in solidarity of the Asians workers. They ust be paid all wages owed to them from the time they have been on this island.

    We all must help Lolita Davis in anyway we can. The paper work must be overwhelming.

    No race of people show be allowed to live and work in such conditions on an island that boast about luxury tourism. And no Chief of Police can prevent anyone from walking peacefully to the Valley to state their case.

  13. The commissioner in all his wisdom know that he could not prevent the Indians from from peacefully walking to the Valley, but please look and understand the situation that the police have found themselves in. I beleive that the officers were concern about the state of the indians having walked so far. I am so saddened about the situation these poor people have found themselves in, after all they are human beings The politicians have made this mess and the police always have to clean up the mess. After all the police officers are human beings as well. This situation is going to cause the world to scorn Anguilla, we would all be affected in someway or the other.

  14. Is this serious? The police tried to prevent the workers from walking to The Valley becuse they were concerned for their health? I've heard a lot of stupidness today but this is too much.

  15. This post was recently made on a tourist forum under "Local":

    For a long time I walked the beach down to Mariners in Sandy Ground. What I saw there almost took my breath away. The Mexican workers - I guess for the stopped dolphin project - are "camping" there under terrible conditions. Most of them sleep in hammocks on the veranda of the former restaurant. There are wood sheets blocking the doors and the old furniture is just thrown on the beach. It almost looks like the areas in St. Maarten where illegal workers are building their own shacks. Is this the start of a new aera in Anguilla?????? Has anybody from the Government who gave permission for that kind of accomodation actually been there?
    I only can say that this is not very representable.

    What is Anguilla heading towards?

  16. If the story Eddie tells about the failed attempt to move the dolphin prison to Sandy Ground is true (and I believe Eddie's being accurate for a change) these are the workers that the CM/Minister of Labour and his PS determined were working there illegally. The CM then seems to have caused the illegal pilings to be removed by the continued employment of these same illegal Mexican workers. These large wood piles, which would become wave borne missiles in a good storm, are now sitting on the beach. The public beach. During hurricane season. It is unclear how the 20 or more Mexicans got here, or who they actually work for, who employed them at Mariners without work permits, or why they are still there. Mariners is being "managed" by a company owned by Dr. Louis Bardfield, who claims he never reads this blog so I guess we won't have the benefit of his comments. But I'd certainly like to know what he's doing down there and how giving people the impression he's a slum lord benefits the people of Anguilla. Or his unfortunate Mexicans.

  17. Vernal Bryan says he's love if a major new corporation got ahold of the Viceroy story. I wonder who called AP.

    Strike Halts Work on Anguilla Resort
    Associated Press 06.27.07, 7:22 PM ET

    A strike by more than 250 laborers from India has halted construction of a $236 million resort in Anguilla.

    The workers, recruited to the Caribbean island due to a labor shortage, met with employers and officials Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss complaints of long hours, poor medical care and abusive language.

    They were hired to work on the Viceroy Resorts & Residences project through Pomposh, an Indian recruitment agency, and Carillion, a British construction company.

    Viceroy, owned by the Kor Hotel Group in Los Angeles, said it was working with Anguilla's government to resolve the dispute "fairly and expeditiously."

    The company said it had launched its own probe into the workers' claims and would hold its contractors responsible for adhering to "best employment practices."

    The Indian workers, who came to Anguilla three months ago, say they work 11 hours a day for as little as a third of the $600 a month that they were promised.

    Caribbean nationals working on the project are not taking part in the strike.

    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

  18. With this vast development in Anguilla, did consultation took place between heads of departments,for eg welfare, health, labour and the immigration department and the police. It would be interesting to know what were there concerns, if any.


  20. We bash the labour and the immigration and to a lesser extent the police all the time, these people are civil servantswith the exception of the police, they were placed in positions, maybe they did not even applied for such positions, and it seem as though it was a plan, because the politicians would want to work with civil servants who are their friends, and who support my party, me myself would select people to work in my establishment who I feel comfortable with, who would not oppose me disrespect me or my policies so we have to understand the situation that these civil servants find themselves in only to be used, please do not be so hard on them. Although they must be able to stand up for ethics and have integrity.

  21. Government:
    There are gov’t officials who are being accused left and right of dealing with under the table business all over. Personally, I don’t have proof, nor have I witnessed these things, but I have a nasty gut feeling. The gov’t in itself isn’t handling monitoring certain activities as they should. I don’t believe that they are doing their jobs as being the protectors, and leaders of the people. The PUBLIC Servants aren’t SERVING THE PUBLIC. There are sections within the government, such as the labour department whose role in this society might need to be defined. This year, with the situations they had down at the “golf course project”, they [labour dept.] had their hands full mediating between Flag and the local workers. Now, is one of the labour department’s roles to protect the workers here in this country? One of the problems they have faced, pertaining specifically to the wage paid, is that there is no minimum wage law in place. Because of this, they have no standards to which they can hold employers to.

    It is true that the amount of work available, especially on construction projects, is more than Anguilla’s population can support, but with the help of the CARICOM neighbours, this has been made possible. There has also been an influx of citizens from the Dominican Republic who have followed family and work alike. But these numbers are still not enough to satisfy the need for labour. Companies started to bring in ex-patriots from other global regions, who work for considerably lesser wages than accepted by Anguillian and regional neighbours alike. Now, it is good business sense on the part of the investors and contractors to use this cheap labour force, in lieu of the local labour, but this is problematic when these immigrants are being allowed to work, and the locals are without work.

    The labour dept. is not in the habit of granting work permits for individuals to hold position where the job could be held by a local, so then why is it that they are granted? As I mentioned before, there simply aren’t enough people here to fulfil the requirements of the contractors, but in some cases, locals do not want the jobs, the responsibilities, or the lowered wages offered by the contractors. The latter would be addressed had there been a minimum wage set in place. In that situation then the wages could at least be competitive.

    The people of this nation need to take a step back and look around them, and realise the consequence of their own actions, and how their selfishness and inability to see the grand scheme is causing problems, as well as hindering progress of this developing country. And from a global stand point, I used this term very loosely.

    History has a way of repeating itself. People seem to have problems letting go of the wrong portions of their past, or rather, realising that the occurrences in the past, have paved the way for the future, which is today; the present. Very few Caribbean nations and neighbours have been built solely by their country men. The infrastructures they now have were vast undertakings, and many sought assistance from other developing nations in this realm. The Panama Canal must have been one of the larger projects which saw labour from all over the world. Guyanese have made it to Barbados to seek work, the same way Anguillians have lived and worked in Santo Domingo previously. Imagine, a few years later, when the Dominicans (Sp) came over to Anguilla, to seek work, to work on some of these construction projects which were under-manned, locals complained about their laziness, their hygiene, the fact they weren’t English speaking, and the list goes on. It wasn’t until immigrants with expired work permits were being threatened with deportation, and were terminated from their jobs did we see Anguillians stepping forward and supporting their fellow man. It is fantastic that they did support their Spanish peaking neighbours when they needed it, but why so much objection to their presence initially? Maybe it was because they did not understand their culture, for lack of wanton of understanding. These Spanish Dominican republicans were ostracised because of cultural differences, and because they were encroaching on treasures which should be reserved for those who have that “Born Here” status. People, déjà vu; is this not the same treatment we have witnessed with the Indians who work down in the West, at the Viceroy/Carillion project? The same nasty Indian men who walked from west end, clear to the valley, in blazing sun, ode for a ride from a stranger who is en route, driving an empty pickup truck. Aren’t these the same nasty Indians who were chased from peoples’ yards when enquiring about doing odd jobs for a little cash? (Or were those the Chinese from the other West End Project) It could have been worst though. Imagine if their intention was to steal from locals, instead of ask for work. What then? Incarceration or deportation? Maybe they might reintroduce the cat-o-nine tails. Would that method of corporal punishment be suitable? And if implemented, do you think it would serve as a deterrent to youths who are following in the footsteps of many disrespectful and unsavoury citizens who carry the titles, “Mummy and Daddy”. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful to see people of different denomination come together to support each other for a cause, but can we not wait until the situation becomes dire, to be compassionate?

    It is harrowing to see how people treat each other across the globe, as well as right here on these shores. The mistreatment and degradation of other humans is reminiscent of the idealisms of those at the forefront of that “holocaust” thing that happened a few years back, and slavery (u remember reading about that one too?). Even sadder is the source of these malevolent acts against humankind. In many cases, can you imagine we, as black people, whose people the world over are known for that large part of our history, or heritage if you may? We have faced the racism, the segregation, the degradation, humiliation as well as the constant onslaught of ignorant bigots who haven’t yet learnt to open their eyes and to see people as people, and not just a natural, renewable resource. A few centuries have passed, and we as black people are very well aware of our histories, but imagine that right now, many of us are quite guilty of what some have dubbed “reversed racism”? It is not on the same scale of the slave trade, nor the holocaust, but it is still prevalent in large and small societies alike.

    We see the white man as a threat in many situations, unjustly so, because of the difference in shades of their skin. Or is it because the thought of slavery is till quite fresh in our minds? How about those of us who would cuss and in other ways grossly disrespect a fellow person of colour, but respectfully address some “undeserving” individual of the Caucasian persuasion as Sir, or Ma’am. Down at the Temenos St. Regis site, (golf course) when Hensel Phelps (not to be confused with Hansel Philips) arrived, they were met with so much abrasion. “Who dese white man tink dem be? Waan come hey and show me how to build? Buddy, ‘twa me who wuk Cuisin Art, ‘twa me who wuk Cap Jaluca. We did building LONG before dem white boys come, an goin be building long afta when dem gaan’. Dem cyan fire me! If I can’t wuk, NOBODY can’t wuk Dese WHITE Mudda****s!” Now let it have been a white man making these comments, but at the end, used the word “BLACK”, instead of “white…” There would have been a social uprising. Somebody would have been on the phone trying to get in contact with Al Sharpton.

    The workers who come in from other countries are here to do a job, get paid, and leave. This is usually the case. Working with foreigners is usually an easier task than working with locals. The quality of work is generally equal, and when they stop whining and moaning about wages they deserve, for work they aren’t doing, they are quite capable of producing work at extremely high standards. But the resistance is hardly ever worth the trouble. I have witnessed individuals refuse to work, because their counter parts, who work better, faster, and display better attitudes towards supervisors and peers alike, make more money. And of course couldn’t be fired, because the labour department will more than likely take the side of a grieving local Anguillian who is trying to make an honest living, that some multi-million dollar corporation from some large continent, trying to rob him of his bread.

    It is truly rather unfortunate how the loudest mouths aren’t usually in synch with the more powerful brains. It is truly unfortunate that those loud mouths are the ones heard…


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