Are you thinking what I’m thinking? The discussion of term limits and work permits has not only veered way off course but has now dissolved into something resembling class warfare; white collar Bermudian executives desperate to attract and keep international business, pitted against their blue collar counterparts fearful that the end of term limits will signal the opening of floodgates to more foreign workers. 

I’m glad the OBA didn’t waste time walking on egg shells before eliminating term limits. The patient was haemorrhaging and it was time to close the wound. It was done to keep existing international businesses and to eliminate any impediments for new companies contemplating a move to Bermuda.

Term limits weren’t eliminated to benefit overseas electricians, dry-wall technicians, construction workers, engineers, lawyers, accountants, hair and spa salon specialists and any other profession you can think of if a Bermudian is ready and qualified. The mid-level reinsurance guy from Stamford will still need a work permit. If you have a problem with understanding this distinction then no amount of dialogue is going to change your mind. 

 Government admittedly should have done a much better job in communicating to members of the public why it is so important to end term limits now rather than waiting two years. The OBA did in fact pledge to suspend term limits for a period of two years and then correctly decided that waiting would be pure folly. Should they have pacified the Opposition and remained committed to a flawed approach or make the decision to act now rather than later? ‘Now’ has always worked for me.

Auditor General, Heather Matthews asserted recently that Bermuda is over two billion dollars in debt.  We have a severely bloated civil service that has unnecessarily contributed to that debt. Over the last fourteen years the civil service has become something akin to an employment agency for those Bermudians who thought tourism or any other job that required more than a typical 9 to 5 work week wasn’t good enough. Like orphans, they were taken in by the civil service. Are you experiencing a “concierge” level of service that one civil servant to every 8-10 Bermudians should be providing?  I didn’t think so.

This is an island country where the “local” rum isn’t distilled here nor is a certain popular rum cake baked here, which ironically is bought by tourists who then pack it their suitcases to take home to the States where it is made. We eat cake; we just can’t find enough local people willing to make it! Don’t you find it curious that certain ‘local’ companies have ‘customer service’ call centers in Canada? Is this a term policy problem? A work permit problem?

Bermudian doctors

Is there a doctor or nurse in the house? Well, probably not in your house. Don’t tell me that a fully qualified Bermudian doctor or nurse wouldn’t be hired and that their non Bermudian colleagues wouldn’t be bounced right out of here. Don’t tell me that there are enough Bermudian hairdressers and they can’t find a job. Bermuda is chock-a-block with English and European hairdressers, nail technicians and estheticians but only a handful of Bermudians are in these professions. Why? News flash: these professions are not exclusive to women. 

Creating more stringent work permit criteria is an important first step to insuring that Bermudians come first in the work place. Examining why there aren’t enough Bermudians employed as hairdressers, spa therapists, wait staff, hotel employees, and actuaries, on this island is also critical to the future of Bermuda. The civil service however, is not a babysitting agency for those Bermudians who can’t or won’t see the writing on the wall. 

I won’t disagree with the columnist who asserts that there are approximately 3,000 Bermudians out of work but I will take exception to the notion that 10,000 guest workers were imported to take Bermudians’ place. If you want those jobs, get educated, get trained and get on track to take those jobs. Then be prepared to work the hours required, not the hours you want. Don’t waste time and breath on how a new Government “lied” to you and made a campaign promise to hang on to a policy that was actually hurting Bermudians.