[Updated with video + Ministry's comments] 22 work permits for the Heritage Wharf Project were filled by foreign workers without being advertised to Bermudians first, Shadow Minister of Public Works Derrick Burgess said this morning [Mar 26].
“This is the first time I would venture to say, that 22 temporary work permits has been granted to a single employer. This is cause for much alarm,” continued Mr Burgess.
“It would have been good for the OBA to come clean with the public about the job categories of these work permits for which Bermudians were not even given the opportunity to apply,” Mr Burgess said.
Earlier this month, the Public Works Ministry said that while local employees will make up 75% or greater of the total workforce on the Heritage Wharf Project, 22 temporary work permits have been issued to foreign workers.
The $22.3 million contract was awarded to SunRise Construction Ltd who partnered under the contract with Crisson Construction and Onsite Engineering. The work is scheduled for completion before the arrival of the Norwegian Breakaway on May 15th 2013.
In describing the work to be done, the Public Works Ministry said, “The increased length of the Norwegian Breakaway means that an addition mooring location will be required to the north of Heritage Wharf, extending the catwalk by eighty feet.
“In addition to this our structural investigations and analysis have revealed that the new Wharf is not strong enough to take the required ship design loadings in berthing maneuvers or in mooring scenarios to required design wind strengths for both the ships currently using the docks and those proposed for the future.
“We will need to construct a total of four mooring and berthing structures; two additional mooring structures, and two additional berthing structures before the arrival of cruise ships.”
Heritage Wharf was built back in 2009 at a final cost of around $60 million.
Mr Burgess’ full statement is below:
The Progressive Labour Party believes that Bermudians and Bermudian companies should come first in opportunities, first in jobs and first in prosperity in the country of our birth. That’s why we are very concerned at the OBA’s disregard for employing Bermudians on the Heritage Wharf project.
In the past, government was able to complete #5 and #8 Hamilton Docks, St. George’s Cruise Ship Dock and The Esso Oil Docks with 99% Bermudians filling all levels; from welders, pile drivers, carpenters, rebar workers to crane operators. At that time, trained and qualified Bermudians were given the opportunity and their job performance was first class.
On this project, under the OBA government, 22 work permits were allowed to be filled by foreign workers without being advertised to Bermudians first. This is the first time I would venture to say, that 22 temporary work permits has been granted to a single employer. This is cause for much alarm.
It would have been good for the OBA to come clean with the public about the job categories of these work permits for which Bermudians were not even given the opportunity to apply.
We were told that 75 percent of the workers at the site will be Bermudians. To the OBA we ask:
- 1. When will the Bermudian workers be employed and for how long?
- 2. What job category will they be employed in?
- 3. How many Bermudians are presently employed on that site?
- 4. How many work permit holders have failed the onsite welding test?
Under the PLP, Bermudian companies provided the cranes and other necessary machinery to complete the Heritage Wharf project. Under the OBA, Bermudian companies were left out in the cold while 2 cranes, 2 high lifts, 2 barges, and a tug boat used to bring the barges to Bermuda, which we understand to be costing the tax payer $100,000 per trip, were brought in from overseas.
All of this equipment is and has been available in Bermuda yet the OBA denied Bermudian companies the opportunity to provide their services and put the money that they would have earned, back into our economy.
The OBA has claimed that this project will cost $22.3 million, but an independent estimating company has costed this at $7 million, a difference of over $15 million. With the denial of opportunities for Bermudians and the lack of openness and transparency permeating this project, the OBA owes Bermudians an explanation.
Update 7.59pm: In response to Mr Burgess’ comments, the Ministry of Public Works issued the statement below.
Once again, the Ministry can confirm that local employees will take up 75 percent or greater of the total workforce to complete the project, scheduled to be ready for the arrival of the Norwegian Breakaway on May 15, 2013.
To date, the Department of Immigration has approved 22 temporary work permits at the request of the Ministry of Public Works to support this project. The barges, cranes and other equipment that are being brought in for these works are larger than what are found locally and require skilled handling.
The local consortia of Sunrise Construction Limited, Crisson Construction Limited and Onsite Engineering Limited are contracted for the works and they will continue to employ Bermudian staff. However they will also be employing staff from abroad to operate the barges and pile driving equipment in a safe manner without danger to local employees.
In order to undertake the works in the restricted timescale and to a high quality the Ministry has imported the piles in 120ft lengths. This reduces the amount of time needed for site welding considerably but unfortunately it requires that equipment be introduced that is capable of handling this size of pile.
All of the welds will be inspected in detail to ensure compliance. Those already completed have been inspected and any defects found have been repaired. All site welds will undergo the same rigorous scrutiny as is required to ensure a product that will stand the test of time.
Furthermore, the required number of welders was supplied from overseas because weld test failures leading to delays would have prevented the Ministry from having the dock ready for the Norwegian Breakaway.
The Ministry has been putting Bermudian welders through a testing regime and certifying them for use on the project. The fact is that the welds are specialized but the Ministry has been able to pass a number of Bermudians for the project.
The additional welding resources provides the Ministry with flexibility and will hopefully ensure some time is made up for the delays caused by the severe winds the Dockyard area has experienced.
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