Brown: Need To Respond Strongly To Violations

May 27, 2015

[Updated] Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown is today [May 27] calling on the Department of Immigration to “act immediately in disciplining a local company” that he alleged has work permit holders working outside of their work permit.

Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown’s Comments

Mr. Brown said, “It is once again distressing to get reports of companies willfully violating immigration policy and the OBA government needs to respond strongly to such violations. Bermuda Air Conditioning currently have a number of permit holders working at the KEMH as welders and this is clearly outside of their work permits.

“When questioned by government staff, BAC reportedly replied they were surprised they were being “spied” on and further commented they did not have time to get Bermudians up to speed. I find this deeply troubling for two reasons: Bermuda has an abundance of qualified welders, who are licensed by the Bermuda Government and no person is allowed to work as a welder who is not certified by the Bermuda Government. These BAC employees are not licensed by the Bermuda Government.”

Mr. Brown further states, “The Department of Immigration needs to halt this work being performed at the KEMH immediately” adding that the DOI needs to investigate and “mete out penalties in accordance with the current work permit policy.”

The Shadow Minister added he suspects this is “merely the tip of the iceberg and companies somehow feel they can violate the law with impunity. Companies who engage in such practice need to be restricted from applying for any work permits at all.”

“This continued pattern of lawlessness makes it evident that the current penalties for immigration violations simply aren’t a deterrent to those who are prepared to deny capable, qualified Bermudians an opportunity to work in their country of birth.”

BAC’s Response

In response, BAC said: “Further to the PLP press release that we have been provided with regarding BAC workers at KEMH hospital we would like to provide the following information.

“There are a total of four employees at the KEMH site. The work that is being carried out is very specialized given the job involves the complexity of tying the old and new hospital facilities together, and the particular position in this case requires a combined knowledge of pipefitting and welding.

“The position was advertised as required and the advertisement clearly states that both pipefitting and welding is a requirement of the position, amongst other things such as a knowledge of steam and condensate systems.

“The speculative assertions of multiple violations made by Mr. Brown are incorrect as to fact.”

“BAC has always been a committed Bermuda centric corporate citizen and out of 242 employees, as of today 81% are Bermudian. We have through our HR Department various apprentice and training programs for Bermudians for all trades which we have maintained for decades.

“BAC looks forward to cooperating fully with any enquiry by any regulatory or governmental body.”

Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy’s Response

Update 5.47pm: In response, Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy said, “I must thank the Shadow Immigration Minister for his most diligent work permit surveillance. I will remind MP Brown and the public once again that if information received is credible, then the Department of Immigration will act in accordance with established protocols.

“However, it is regrettable that the Shadow Minister has taken it upon himself to ‘name and shame’ an alleged violator of immigration policies before the matter has even been investigated and a finding made. In my view it would be far more of a public service for MP Brown to bring relevant information to the attention of the Chief Immigration Officer who can take the steps required to verify the authenticity of the complaint being made, rather than running to the press.

“It is important that due process is followed and all parties are given an opportunity to be heard. I remind the public again, that work permit related complaints should be made to the Department of Immigration. I do not think it is appropriate to engage in trial by press.

“As regards the deterrents in respect of work permit violations, MP Brown appears to have conveniently forgotten that the OBA Government introduced the concept of civil penalties and doubled the fines for criminal penalties in respect of work permit violations. He also seems to have forgotten that the Chief Immigration Officer currently has 21 cases before her. Actions taken by the Chief Immigration Officer do not preclude me as Minister from pulling work permits or refusing to grant new permits.

“I am proud of the work undertaken by the Department and the diligence they put into investigations. By and large, despite the rhetoric of the Opposition, employers follow the work permit policy. There are some exceptions, but I do not believe violators are as numerous as constantly suggested by MP Brown.”

Copy of BAC Ad

Update 6.18pm: BAC provided a copy of the ad the referenced above, which follows below [PDF here]

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Comments (64)

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  1. Unbelievable says:

    What is he talking about? Now he’s telling the Dept of Immigration what to do?

    • Black Soil says:

      The biggest violations were under the PLP. Finally we have a govt in place to protect this island from its own Krazy.

    • Just Saying says:

      Why werent locals given the opportunity to work along side these men who aren’t from here? So us Bermudians can gain further knowledge and become specialist too. No faith in our own what so ever.

      • feel the love says:

        Read the immigration law. Companies are not required to hold the hand of locals to try to teach them. Learn yourself and you will be employed. Simple yet so many feel the need to be entitled. Welcome to Bermuda Just Saying!

    • MAKE MY DAY says:

      He would very much like to!! This guy has “racial issues” and I am NOT afraid to talk about it!! Ever since I can remember – he has always sung the same lame tune!!

      STOP playing your stupid game Walton Brown – and try and do something POSITIVE for the Island!!

  2. aceboy says:

    Once again a PLP Minister needs to be corrected.

    Pathetic.

  3. Terry says:

    Years ago I watched the Waltons on TV.

    Good show.

    This fool (no relative) is making mountains out of mole hills.

    Whats the color of Money again?

    Shalom.

  4. Kangoocar says:

    So!!! In a nutshell once again brown/plp are running off half cocked with misinformation??? Please plp will you just stay quite and get out of the way??? Everyday it is the same nonsense from these incompetents!!! All plpers need to read over and over, Min Fahy’s response until it sinks into your heads!!!!

  5. Family Man says:

    Is Nicholas Tweed acting outside his work permit again?

    • Rights for All says:

      Good point. Can The Immigration Dept please say once and for all and let Bermuda know if someone on a work permit is say allowed to partake in and organize actions and demonstrations against a duly elected Government? Since the BAC ad has now been shown, can the ad for a certain Pastor be also shown? After all it is Minister Brown who is using the media for his campaign so why not use it for all? It’s not long ago that work permit holders were summarily ejected from Bermuda if they went outside the strict terms of their permit.

    • Now that’s the $64000:00 question we need answered A.S.A.P.!

  6. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Bermudians can’t even construct a speed bump correctly and you want them to attempt the quality of specialized work required at the hospital tie in…what you knumbnuts fail to realize, is that Bermudians do not or cannot gain the experience in specialized work because of the lack of a need for specialists on a full time basis and we can’t afford the time or money on Mistakes!!!…let alone the safety of the hospitals inhabitants…ohhhhh boyyy.

    • Fresh Prince says:

      You will not be allowed to come on Bernews or any other site and disrespect an entire island of tradesmen and workers. I’d ask you to apologize for your comment regarding whether or not Bermudians (without limitation apparently) being able to construct a speed bump but I suspect you don’t have the class for that.

      Let’s keep it real, 4Real. The question here is not about whether or not there is a need for specialists, or whether Bermudians are able to carry out the job. That is a red herring raised by BAC (and you fell for the okey- doke) rather, it is whether or not those specialists need a work permit under Bermuda law. Note BAC’s entire statement fails to confirm this pertinent fact. This absence of information speaks volumes.

      • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

        Actually, the question is whether they need a licence, not a work permit. Bit of a differences, and a question that should have been asked at the time of asking for a work permit for the positions.

      • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

        i hope you like fowl…because you’ll be eating a lot of crow when you get the truth…oh and i would never put limitations on what YOU can or cannot say on Bernews or any other website on the World Wide Web…you be sounding like Mr. Kim Jong Il with your higher than thou dictatorial blood coursing through your veins.

        go back to your notes regarding every botched or overrun projects then post who the Company was that provided you with such information…i’ll be waiting for your prompt reply, thanks.

      • steve says:

        @real- your insulting comments regarding Bermuda workers is useless and sad. Not much different than snide remarks the opposition re expats/IB/women…Bermuda remains a wonderful country to live because most of us don’t agree with either of you.

        • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

          “The Truth is Rarely Popular”.

          next time try to stay on topic thanks.

    • Just Saying says:

      Its comments like this that make me sick to my stomach. This island has NO FAITH in its people what so ever and its sickening. You spend all this money to leave this island in stride to further your education for a better life spending up to and over $80,000. Just to come back here and be told you have no experience and pretty much your degree or certification is worthless. I know so much people who have gone off to college struggling to pay the debt off working mediocre jobs. The department of Immigration needs to do better at safe guarding opportunities for us locals. Don’t you know that work permits holders are to train locals while they are here making a living so by the time their work permit it up a local is qualified for the job. SAD TO SAY IN MOST CASES THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN! While we sit back and fight through all the politics just to be given and opportunity in the workforce, permits are being extended and the locals still left in the cold and in debt. The OBA claim we need more foreigners here to circulate the money as if us Bermudians dont spend enough. But thats statement is only to keep the rich wealthy and the poor stay poor. Renting apartments at ridiculous rents and etc. and the rest of their money is sent back overseas. I will continue to pray for this island because this government is a big contradiction!!!!

      • feel the love says:

        So wrong. Some some more Herb and drink some more green tea!

      • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

        Please do some research in how an economy works and you might begin to understand why we need more foreigners here to increase our economy. Believe me, no one questions Bermudians ability to spend money, we’re as talented at that as other Western countries.

      • hmmm says:

        @ Just saying, your extremist view is just as invalid as Keeping it Real 4 Real.

        SMDH

      • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

        well just look at the amount of people that have NO FAITH in God…go ahead and put your FAITH in MAN…see where you end up…

  7. de fence says:

    Last time he reported the offenders to Michael Fahy and action was taken.
    So why has he gone back to Grandstanding?
    He doesn’t want to correct it, he just wants to whine about it

    • hmmm says:

      It’s all about Walton promoting Walton.

      • animallover says:

        No it’s the PLP trying to let it’s voters know that they are working for their $. Even if it’s a total farce. I really enjoy listening to their whining, but they never seem to have a solution.

      • MAKE MY DAY says:

        ***** BINGO****

  8. James says:

    I have to agree with Minister Fahy here.

    Certainly, the Department must investigated any alleged work permit violations, but there are processes in place to serve this need—processes which the Shadow Minister appears to be willingly ignoring if only to generate press time for himself. If the PLP claim to have so much faith in the work of Bermuda’s civil service, then let them do their job. A trial by press—and one which may (unjustifiably) impugn the integrity of a Bermudian company—is hardly justice.

    Do better, MP Brown. You know better

  9. Anbu says:

    Once again d pee el pee mouthing off before the facts are even straight. Typical. Hilarious even. Smh. I wonder why they couldnt get this mich work done the whole te they were in office? Work harder as the opposition lol. Deff earning your paycheck tho.

    • Franklin Jr says:

      It’s grandstanding for the base, this is not aimed at you, or me

      The PLP *must* keep their base angry and emotional to retain support. It matters not that the claims are easily refuted. The base hears this, gets fired up, and any response from the company in question or the government goes unread and is dismissed as “haters” or worse

      Walton could get dragged to court and have a massive defamation (or whatever) judgement against him and it still wouldn’t matter, the initial emotional response of us vs THEM will triumph, maybe not with everyone, but with enough

  10. Ruthless says:

    He is obviously still upset that the OBA were not going to release the names of the last two in the house last week. So his response was to go ahead and try to name and shame the next violators himself. Like a big baby

  11. Terry says:

    By any means necessary.

    Infamy.

  12. Ringmaster says:

    Why stop at work permit “name and shame”? Let’s name and shame all those companies who deduct pension, health and payroll taxes from their workers and keep them. Why isn’t Minister Brown concerned about those workers who have less money then find they have no health insurance or pension? No concern for workers, just the employers? Skeletons maybe that need to be left unfound?

    • Well... says:

      He can’t point a finger at his own party!!!

      • Onion says:

        Sure he can. 4 fingers point back at him every time he makes one of these silly claims.

    • ann says:

      Thank you Ringmaster, I have asked that question at least 3 times, why are we not publishing the names of companies that are not paying their taxes, but still working and getting vehicles re licensed!

  13. Jim says:

    Too much time on your hands, go get a proper job.

  14. Starting Point says:

    Once again the PLP are found wanting, it must be agony for those who are not OBA supporters as their alternative is a complete and utter fail, time after time again.

    If anything the shadow minister is aiding and abetting those companies by not submitting the information to the proper channels and instead using it for his personal political ends, lol way to be for the people plp.

    even if Mr. Brown is taken at face value his statement basically says the civil servants at the department of immigration are incompetent. Again great job being for the working people plp, unless Mr. Brown thinks that a ministers role is to answer the phones, work the front desk, go out on inspections etc. If that the case then we have a ton of redundant people down at immigration.

    But thanks again to Mr. Brown as we all needed another laugh for the day.

    • Onion says:

      Worse than incometent: evil. If the PLP’s allegations on half of this stuff were true it would take a truly evil government to be doing them.

  15. Corn Oil says:

    Wow the Minister is proud of a government department

  16. Poppy says:

    Mr Brown has gone off have cocked again dangerous stop it. Stop shooting yourself in the foot get your facts right grow up be a member of Parliament and grow Bermuda.

  17. Micro says:

    Because the PLP were so diligent in protecting Bermudian jobs

  18. jt says:

    If you’ve watched Charlie Brown animations you know what I’m thinking.

  19. feel the love says:

    Ahhh read the fine print in the ad. They drug test! All those wall sitters smoking herb and drinking green tea won’t be hired. There is the complaint of the PLP! Smoke weed and hire me. I’ll show up late, message my acegirl constantly, take a 3 hour lunch and leave early. The perfect employee!

  20. Zevon says:

    What exactly dies Tweed’s work permit allow him to do?
    Why isn’t Walton assking that? Like we don’t know.

  21. Getting it right says:

    Just to be clear…

    Total of four guys on site….two permit holders teamed up with two Bermudians.

    • Derek A. G. Jones says:

      @ Getting it right, is that the fact? BAC hired two expat specialists and teamed them up with two Bermudians?

      If that’s the case then well done BAC and shame on MP Brown. Everyone needs to remember that Bermuda does have qualified employees in many different fields but just because a job comes up they may not be available to apply as they already be employed elsewhere. People with highly technical skills in strong demand tend not to be unemployed for long.

      • Interested Party says:

        Yes, Derek, Getting it right got it right. I’m sure those two Bermudians are learning ahelluvalot from the welding pipefitter specialists. Welding piping and vessels that will be under pressure is a very different animal than what most of our local welders will have a chance to work on.

        • Derek A. G. Jones says:

          @ Interested Party, thank you for clarifying that.

    • Tolerate says:

      @Getting it right, If your information is correct Mr. Brown owes BAC a public apology. After all, are we not encouraging companies to team up Bermudians with workers to get experience?
      Now we get this public bashing of a Bermudian business and Mr. Brown decides to take it upon HIMSELF to name and shame without ALL the facts and without going through the proper procedures.
      Again if your information is correct he needs to publicly apologies to BAC and show he’s a politicians for ALL and not a fear monger trying to win votes off the backs of others. I will be checking to see if this apology happens; if not what ever LAST respect I have for Mr. Brown has gone out the door.
      SMDH

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      but are my boys learning or texting..? this is not a school to be taught, but an Opportunity to Learn for Free. What do you, think..?

  22. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    You know, I think Brown’s got the right idea, he’s just going about it in the wrong way.

    It’s the whole ‘cry wolf’ story, talk too much about false issues and no one is going to believe you on a real one.

    It would make better sense to go to the Ministry directly with the information you’ve received, let the public know you’ve given over yet another possible breach in company behaviour, and then keep on top of the investigation so it doesn’t get lost in the mix. That way you show that you’re doing your job in looking out for Bermudians, but you’re not looking a bit of a nutter in jumping the gun on the whole name and shame business, which I think is a good idea, but only when it’s been proven a company is in breach.

    You’re on the right track, Mr. Brown, but please do better. Trying to make the Government look bad with misguided info doesn’t sway voters, it just makes you look desperate.

  23. Be Realistic says:

    Curious…

    Local company advertise according to the regulations….

    No suitable qualified Bermudian apply or are deemed appropriate

    Job goes to a dreaded Ex-Pat

    Someone please explain where the misdemeanor lies as I am clearly missing something?

    Damn those sneaky ex-pats, coming here, stealing our jobs etc etc etc

  24. Christopher Notorius says:

    Everyone, please don’t go looking for an apology from Walton Brown. He is a member of the PLP and they don’t apologise.

    E V E R!

    An apology means you are taking responsibility for your actions, and would like to make amends. This is why you will N E V E R hear an apology from anyone in the PLP.

    They are irresponsible – PLP are unfit to rule.

    • steve says:

      True, the PLP absolutely never apologize for anything ever been goin of for years- its a weekly,sometimes daily reminder of their insecurity.My momma told me it took strength to apologize and showed strength of character. I love you mom,i love all dedicated moms…i think i lost my topic. Pleasant weekend All!

  25. Alvin Williams says:

    Why should we trust this government to investigate work permit breaches when we have the minster of foreign employment procurement who sits in the Senate singing the praises of foreign workers on the back of suspicions and complains of those rogue employers who have made it plain that they prefer foreign workers as oppose to hiring Bermudians?

    • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

      Fascinating perspective.

    • hmmm says:

      It is a part of the immigration departments role.

      Your spurious wind is just that, wind.

      Are you saying immigration department don’t know what they are doing???

    • Tolerate says:

      So question; from a blogger above (if he be correct) stating that there were four workers, two permit holders (apparently with the required skills) and two Bermudians (there to assist and get on job experience). With ALL that BAC has stated to defend themselves; “DO YOU STILL HAVE A PROBLEM????” Not being argumentative; just a question.
      Maybe a question you need to remove the tin foil hat for.
      Not EVERYTHING is a conspiracy theory.

    • Christopher Notorius says:

      If this is your perspective Alvin, then you should be chasing the foreign preacher out of town, and backing the Bermudian senator with the entirely Bermudian family.

      Your weak argument of how he is almost Bermudian, and how she is not quite Bermudian – is just that – very weak.

      It is also 100% NOT correct.

    • MAKE MY DAY says:

      Here comes “trouble”… With a capital *T*!!!

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      this infamous immigration dept consists of, who? Did the OBA fire or remove the people holding these govt. positions, or are the same people doing these jobs in these dept’s that were there under the PLP’s tenure…answer that for me, then GO and ask THEM if they feel that they have processed a “breached permit”.

  26. MAKE MY DAY says:

    That comment was directed towards Alvin *PLP* Williams!! You lost Williams… You had 14 yrs to do some good for the Island – and you and your PLP / BIU cohorts screwed-it-up BIGTIME…. So BIG in fact that the Island is almost “bankrupt”!! Was that the intention – or are you ALL just idiots in the PLP??

  27. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    just out of curiosity…is there a testing facility for Bermudians to apply their “specialist” skills before we venture overseas for it..? yes or no would suffice, thanks.