Has Shane Gibson overstepped his authority?

WE WONDER how kindly Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell has taken to Labour Minister Shane Gibson dipping his oar into his immigration portfolio.

As Minister of Labour and National Insurance, Mr Gibson has no authority to make any businessman believe that he can grant or deny a work permit. Mr Gibson's authority ends when his Ministry answers an applicant's question as to whether the Labour Department has a Bahamian on its employment roster fitting the description of a vacant post to be filled. If yes, then the name should be submitted to the prospective employer. The employer should then have the final say as to whether the person sent from Labour for the interview measures up to the standards required by his business. The Ministry of Labour is not -- and should not be -- qualified to make that final decision. Only the business owner, who pays the salary, knows his business. Only he knows who he is looking for to add to his team. We can assure the politicians that qualifications include more than a piece of paper listing academic degrees.

However, if the Ministry has no one with the required qualifications, the standard reply from the Ministry of Labour reads as follows:

"In reply to your request for (position stated), please be advised that there are no Bahamians registered for this position at this time. Please be further advised that should a Bahamian register as unemployed within a reasonable time after this certificate has been issued, he or she may be referred to you."

So ends the requirement of Mr Gibson's Ministry. Mr Gibson bows out and Mr Mitchell as Minister of Immigration steps in. It is Mr Mitchell's Ministry -- and not Mr Gibson's -- that has the final say in whether a work permit is granted.

And yet it was Mr Gibson who recently showed business the clenched fist putting employers "on notice" that the issuing of labour certificates will no longer be "business as usual."

As most large businesses that go through the process asked: "What's the man talking about? We do all that is required of us. What is this threat all about?"

Either the Department of Labour has a qualified candidate for the position to be filled, or it has not. It has a very simple question to answer -- and no one, as far as we know, is paid off to do anything underhand. Or will Mr Gibson have the wits to find a Casper the Ghost to fill the vacancy?

Apparently, in his recent radio interview, Mr Gibson has targeted Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation for special attention. He said that labour certificates will now be "systematically denied" where there are Bahamians who can do the job. Who is he to decide whether or not there are Bahamians who can do the job? If this were so, BTC would still be in the hands of Bahamians. It would seem that knowing the value of the qualified Bahamians who were at BTC the new owners have retained them. Of course, there were those employees who decided to take their severance packets and leave.

In answer to Mr Gibson's uncalled for bluster, BTC CEO Geof Houston, announced that BTC had a 99 per cent Bahamian staff. He said the few work permits remaining were held by suppliers who were updating and replacing antiquated equipment, parts for which were no longer available. BTC has 794 staff members with several Bahamians holding key executive positions.

At a time when it is important to assure businesses that the Bahamas is a safe place in which to invest and expand, the noises being made by Mr Gibson, and Mr Christie's promise to renegotiate a contract to get the majority of BTC back into Bahamian hands is not the ingredients to instil confidence.

In fact, we are starting to hear too many businesses starting to waver in their plans for the future.

According to Mr Gibson, he has instructed the Labour Department to contact employees to inform them that they now have to justify every person that they have on a work permit, give a time frame when these persons will be out of the Bahamas and their jobs will be turned over to Bahamians.

This is not for Mr Gibson to do. All Mr Gibson has to do is say whether or not he has a Bahamian to fill these vacancies. The rest is up to Mr Mitchell as Minister of Immigration. It is up to Mr Mitchell's Immigration board -- which is the cabinet -- that the businessperson has to justify the need for the foreign applicant. It is this board -- and not Mr Gibson -- that the applicant has to convince that there are no Bahamians with the qualification that he needs for his business.

The Bahamas' economic situation -- like that of the rest of the world -- is much too delicate for politicians like Mr Gibson to make businesses believe that unions and their leaders are going to run this country.

It is time for Prime Minister Christie to take control of his cabinet and inform ministers of their duties.


242 10 years, 1 month ago

Do they even consult the Prime Minister or each other before making these bold statements? When you make a statement like that and you represent a party it appears that this is the belief of the Entire party. What does Minister Mitchell have to say about this? Since it is his ministry...


concernedcitizen 10 years, 1 month ago



mynameis 10 years, 1 month ago

Now, Mr./Mrs. Editor, you see what I was talking about...it's all about BTC!!!! I hope that when the Department of Labour sends out those letters to Employers requiring justification, that those Employers then forward those letters directly to their attorneys who I'm sure will write to Mr. Gibson and query his authority to require such disclosure. And then because clearly discretion is not the better part of valour for Mr. Gibson, I implore him to be foolish enough to insist that he has such a right so that an application for judicial review can be filed with the courts... I suggest that if Mr. Gibson wants to know anything concerning the applications for work permits, he directs the Director of Labour to provide him with the files that his Ministry actually has which indicate the status of the Department on numbers of qualified Bahamians. By the way, I checked the portofolios of Government Minister, and saw nothing which indicates that the Prime Minister has delegated or assigned any immigration matters to Mr. Gibson.


concernedcitizen 10 years, 1 month ago

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realfreethinker 10 years, 1 month ago

Who is in charge of the government it seems old habits are hard to break. gibson those are only following the leader who goes around threatining companies it had better stop soon or investors will be afraid to come


concernedcitizen 10 years, 1 month ago



TalRussell 10 years, 1 month ago

Maybe this time around PM Christie will have to first " per-approve" all Help Wanted ads before being placed outside Bahamaland, by the companies seeking workers. No ads should be placed "outside" the Bahamaland, until they have first been well advertised locally.

it is the often case where the wording of the ad is intentionally written to 'over qualify" the job requirements, meaning they want to disguise the hiring a native for the position.

It's pretty damn ridiculous to have granted a work permit for a foreigner to dig road construction ditches.

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