Atlantis Will Retain Work Permit Policy

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A top Kerzner executive is confirming that the Atlantis Resort will retain its work permit policy, despite the tight economy — a move coming as Bahamian calls intensify for a crackdown on permit issuance.

"In every instance where a work permit is held it is because of the value that the permit holder brings to the organization," Atlantis spokesman Ed Fields told Guardian Business. "Whether in good times or bad times, work permits are based on that philosophy [and] quite naturally it follows that in difficult economic times all positions are analyzed based on the value to the organization.

"We will continue to review all positions with that principle in mind."

It's a posture that could see the company making no changes to its work permit policy, although Fields notes that work permits for foreign workers are sought out of necessity and not preference. His sentiments are echoed by local head hunters that charge they have no choice but to recruit abroad, given a lack of local skilled labor.

Fields is now pointing to Atlantis having already exhausted all of its termination exercises, a move the company undertook to ensure the viability of the resort during slumping visitor arrivals to the destination.

His comments follow earlier suggestions put forth by Grand Bahama tour operator Hadley Forbes - owner of the H. Forbes Tour company - who argues the limitation of work permit approvals is key in this economy.

"It's important now because the economy is to a standstill now," he told Guardian Business. "We need to make sure there are enough jobs for Bahamians now."

His suggestion comes as Bahamians are faced with an unemployment rate in the teens. Forbes believes the best way to raise employment in the nation is for government to place a limit on the time any expatriate can remain in a position, so that they can be replaced by a Bahamian worker who has been trained.

It's a move that would require employers to provide detailed accounts of every foreign worker on its payroll, outlining the length of time they've been in that position.

"The government should say to businesses we have 'x' amount of persons who may not be qualified to do your work right now," he said, "but we want them to sit in as an [apprentice] and we give you a five-year work permit for apprenticeship."

At the end of the five years, he suggests a review committee should revisit the worker portfolio to see if he/she really made an valiant attempt to impart the information to a suitable Bahamian worker.

By INDERIA SAUNDERS
Guardian Business Reporter