Johnson: More Than 400 Bahamians Employed With Mexican Workers

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Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson says government denied original request of 500 work permits in favor of more Bahamian workers at Baker’s Bay

Minister of Immigration and Trade Elsworth Johnson responded to anger expressed by many Bahamians, after 135 construction workers from Mexico entered the country on Thursday, for work at Baker’s Bay, Abaco.

Bahamians expressed anger on social media against the government, accusing the Minnis administration of employing foreigners over Bahamians as unemployment rise during the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson said more than 400 Bahamians are presently employed at the project along with the 135 Mexican workers.

“The vision of the developer is to bring the project back to a global standard and it is their goal to have up to 1,400 persons employed with the vast majority of whom being Bahamians. Presently there are 420 Bahamians employed on the project.

Johnson said following the devastations of Abaco by Hurricane Dorian, the developers of Baker’s Bay asked government for 500 permits, for construction of the project within a year. But government denied the request.

“There was an original request for 500 work permits. However, based on the government’s labor mandate to ensure that Bahamians be given priority for any and all job opportunities, and that Bahamians also make up the vast majority of the onsite labor force, that request was refused and instead 135 work permits were granted,” he said.

He continued, “All work permit applicants are to facilitate technical works, whose skill sets would also be shared with the Bahamian workforce.”

Johnson reassured that all workers from Mexico possessed a Ministry of Health travel visa and each presented authorities with a negative Covid-19 test result.

He said the government remains committed to ensuring that Bahamians are afforded every employment opportunity.

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