Heritage Wharf *File photo
Heritage Wharf *File photo

 

A row is heating up over the number of guest workers being used to complete repairs to Heritage Wharf as the cruise ship season gets underway.

Shadow Works & Engineering minister Derrick Burgess said the One Bermuda Alliance is not putting Bermudians first by issuing 22 work permits for this project.

Mr Burgess said: “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.”

Mr Burgess pointed out that previous projects on #5 and #8 Hamilton Docks, St. George’s Cruise Ship Dock and The Esso Oil Docks, used 99 per cent Bermudians. 

He said Bermudians filled 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.”

Mr Burgess added the people were promised that 75 per cent of the workers on the Heritage Wharf site would be Bermudians. 

“That would mean that 75 or so Bermudians that should be on site. How many are there on site now? “Why bring in welders when we have welders in Bermuda? Minister Fahy said they had to bring in underwater welders. We have Bermudians who are qualified and certified underwater welders…who don’t have work.” 

He said under the PLP government Bermudians and Bermudian equipment were used to complete the Heritage Wharf project.

But “under the OBA, Bermudian companies were left out in the cold while two cranes, two high lifts, two 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.”

Mr Burgess declined to say which company had the 275 ton crane but added “all the equipment I mentioned is available because there’s not much work going on in Bermuda so they would have been glad to rent out that equipment. He also declined to state which company gave the $7m estimate for the repairs.

Breakaway

We tried reaching On Public Works minister Trevor Moniz yesterday but he did not return calls.  But on March 7 said the Heritage Wharf project will be done in time for the arrival of the Norwegian Breakaway.

At that time he said:  “The Ministry can confirm that local employees will take up 75 percent or greater of the total workforce to complete the project which will provide an excellent learning experience for both the local workforce on the ground and local engineers and technical staff who are working closely with overseas experts to ensure the project is completed to the required quality and on time.”

 “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.  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." n