Exploitation of St Lucian Technically Trained Workers. In November 2005, Anguilla expressed an interest in attracting technically qualified St Lucians to become engaged in the construction industry in
Shortly after, Anguillian contractors began to telephone technically qualified persons in
I have been receiving a disturbing number of reports about what appears to be a systematic scheme of exploitation of these St Lucian workers in the construction industry in
If it was only one person complaining, it might be discounted as a personal disappointment. But, two complaints, and confirmation of the essentials of the story from an independent source, are impossible to ignore.
The specific complaint is that certain Anguillian building contractors, one of them with a lot of influence, specialize in importing technically qualified St Lucians to work for them in
The scam is officially called a “one-month extension”. It is comparatively inexpensive. It can supposedly be renewed for a total of only three months, after which the worker has to go home. In theory, the
The St Lucians in question are literate, technically qualified, and hard workers. Best of all, when they complain, they can be easily got rid of.
When they become insistent about getting properly paid, and their status in
My enquiries indicate that the official line is that government has adopted a policy to “help our
This scheme, naturally, is only for the favoured friends of those with influence in
The Governor’s Office has been made aware of the exploitation. We do not know what, if anything, they have done about it. The Immigration Department and the Labour Commissioner’s Office, must have been aware of an immigration scam since it is at least two years old. Russel Reid, the Labour Commissioner, never sees these workers. He doesn’t usually hear about them. When he stumbles upon them by accident, he claims not to know what they are doing here. He is not known to have ever proceeded against any of these exploiters. Laureen Bryan, Chief Immigration Officer, has never been known to initiate prosecution of any Anguillian employer of illegal immigrant labour. They must accept responsibility for the public perception that they are turning a blind eye to it. At any rate, my information is that none of them has done a thing to put a stop to these activities, despite having received numerous complaints.
The way the contractors use the policy defrauds the government revenue of work permit fees. It unlawfully avoids paying social security contributions on wages and salaries. It is an evasion of regulations requiring police clearances and medical checkups. It deprives the workers of disability and other social security benefits. It turns them into unwitting criminals. It is a clever way of avoiding the announced moratorium on the granting of work permits. You simply do not apply for one. And, our public service authorities, at least suspecting all these details, have kept quiet.
You may say that we need not feel sorry for the St Lucians. What is happening to them is no worse than happened to thousands of Anguillian young men forced to work illegally in St Thomas in the old days. What is objectionable is that the fraud on the work permit policy is being facilitated by people at the top of government. The main perpetrators are the very men who helped to set the nation's policy. And, the regulators and law enforcement authorities turn a blind eye.
I have made enquiries of the officials. The Governor’s office’s response is that it is not true that they are doing nothing about the complaint. All other responses have been equally evasive.
If Dr Anthony only knew what was really going on, I wonder what he would say now!
When the same Anguillian youth we wonder about look at how rotten this whole system is, from the top to the bottom, is it any wonder they explode into violence?
They cry out, “Bun fiyah pon
I wonder, why would they say such a thing?