Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. The Hon. Kedrick Pickering says that government is moving swiftly ahead with the remaining aspects of labour reform in the Territory. In fact, the Deputy Premier has announced that the Labour Policy and the Labour Regulations — two additional documents to give the 2010 Labour Code a bigger bite — are presently being worked on.
Speaking at the launch of the Labour Tribunal on 11 November, Hon. Pickering said that the Regulation to the Labour Code is vital. In relation to the Labour Policy, the Deputy Premier noted that “a new (Labour) Policy that would guide the overall functioning of labour within the country (and create) ease in the issuing of work permits. Its final drafting stage came out of the public meetings that we had early in our administration.”
The Labour Minister said that the draft legislation was referred to legal persons to ensure that the document is within the remit of the law. “There are some amendments to the Code itself that have been drafted to make the Code more functional, practical and realistic in today’s BVI context. Those are being reviewed and will be on its way to Cabinet pretty soon, on its way to the House of Assembly for the final amendment to the Code that will improve the law itself,” Dr. Pickering added.
He said that his Ministry is working diligently to ensure that the legal situation in the BVI can approach a situation where people feel that it is fair, just and above reproach.
During a 2013 Government on the Road Meeting that was held in the Third District, Dr. Pickering announced that the Labour Policy will take into consideration the communicated need for a new system improving work permit issuance. He said that the Policy would allow a greater amount to be charged from professionals who work in the area of financial services and make bigger salaries. He also stated that “there is also an appetite for the increase in work permit fees.”
However, Hon. Pickering said that this increase is not intended for persons doing jobs such as construction and domestic work, but more catered to highly paid experts and professionals. “The Labour Policy once completed will have all of those areas clearly outlined,” the Minister stated.
Dr. Pickering also mentioned that in the Policy there are plans to make work permits last for a period of two or three years. This would be important in attracting professionals from abroad. “That is to ensure that when individuals come to work they would have stability working in the country.”