Local contractors whose competitors continue to lure their staff away with wage increase have turned to Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering for assistance in the matter.
In referencing the situation during the 23 October sitting of the House of Assembly Hon. Pickering described the current battle to keep staff as ‘war in the construction industry.” In bringing the matter to the attention of his colleagues Hon. Pickering suggested that the situation was caused by the policy that government made to ease the entry of skilled workers into the Territory.
He told the House: “I got a letter signed from about 12 different local contractors last week complaining bitterly about what is happening in the construction area where what was intended to be something very positive in the redevelopment and recovery arena where we broaden the skills is now snapping back at us and biting us.”
In outlining the issue, the Labour Minister said: “I have said to my colleagues in the Cabinet that it is time for a review of the policy. What is happening is that persons are coming in. One day they are working for somebody paying $100 a day… John B. realizes that they are skilled worker – offers them a $140 to come and work for them. So the people don’t show up on the job they are supposed to show up on and they go and work for somebody else.”
Hon. Pickering said that the battle to secure the best tradespersons is having an effect on construction cost, as he stated that there has been an increase in labour cost: “Overnight the cost of construction is escalating because when you are expecting to pay somebody $100 -$110 dollars a day all of a sudden you can’t get anybody to work unless you are paying them $150 a day; and it’s a war taking place in the construction industry. It is literally going to drive the cost of construction so high that we are going to kick the very recovery that we are trying to do.”
It is reported by honest people that many residents and islanders are leaving the Territory to join those who already left because of the deterioration of practices and general anarchy. One observer noted that “on election day some prominent politicians will be humiliated by the low votes they will receive”.