Bahamas Striping Questions Legality Of Foreign Stripers
One of the country’s specialty striping companies is asking questions about the presence of foreigner stripers currently working on two of the countries big road projects.
Bahamas Striping, which started more than two years ago and has trained several Bahamians in striping, is questioning how foreigners are allowed work permits to work on jobs that Bahamians are capable of doing.
Atario Mitchell, president of Bahamas Striping, was on his lunch hour yesterday when he received a call from other concerned Bahamians that foreigners were marking up road traffic arrows on Marathon Road, a job that Bahamas Striping has completed many times before.
Mitchell says he would like the labour and immigration officials to check whether the foreigners are adhering to prescribed regulations and the circumstances under which these foreigners received work permits. He also wants National Insurance Board to check whether they are paying NIB contributions as prescribed by law.
“Many young Bahamians are out of work and underemployed and there are several Bahamian entities that can do this kind of work,” says Mitchell. “There are three or more all-Bahamian companies that stripe. Were they given a chance to do this work? We ourselves have three young Bahamians on our team who can do this. We also have the equipment. Besides us, there are others who have worked with professional striping companies. This is a very serious matter when foreigners are needlessly displacing young Bahamians who need to feed their families and pay their bills.”
“We’d like to know how one of these foreigners was able to be striping the Sports Centre and then also seen working on the JCCC project (The New Providence Road Improvement Project) within days. We’ve seen foreign stripers also working on the Chinese Airport Gateway Project, at times without any Bahamians working with them.”
“To our knowledge, as the authorities have told us, temporary permits are supposed to be project-specific. You can’t just be skipping round the island working different jobs at the same time. If the permit assigns you to a project, you have to stick to that. That’s what we’ve been told,” added Mitchell. “So how come we see the same guy in different places working two jobs?”
“We’d like to know what percentage of Bahamians are working in these foreign-based striping operations. We’d like to check whether a training program have been set up to promote trained Bahamians. We’d also like to know whether NIB has been paid for these foreign workers, as the law says they should. We ask this because, to the best of our knowledge, this same foreign-based striping company did not pay NIB contributions for more than 10 years! Someone should investigate that and check that it’s being paid now. It’s strange that even famous Bahamians can be arrested for not paying NIB, but foreigners get away with it scot-free. It’s clearly unjust.”
“But the big question is: Why are foreigners being brought in to do work that Bahamians can do and have been trained to do? This is threatening our livelihoods. We can’t even get an inch of striping on the JCCC New Providence Road Improvement Project. We have never been asked to bid even on a small section. To a reasonable man, this seems like a conspiracy whereby two foreign-based multinationals want it all for themselves and want to throttle the local Bahamians from getting a chance to grow. In fact, JCCC at first promised us a trial of a mile of road and then they reneged, not even asking for meeting.”
“The last straw was when JCCC confessed in front of Mott McDonald and Ministry of Works officials that they never had any intention of giving us a trial or any work. All they were doing is dragging us along pretending, and getting our business information to pass to their UK-based striping buddies. Then they quickly contrived a contract that has blocked us from working on even an inch of road. Before that, they admitted there was no contract in place with the foreigners. Then both of them cooked one up fast to stop us dead. From that time on we never had any hope of getting any work on the biggest road project that this country has ever seen. And all along that same foreign-based striping company wasn’t paying their business license fees for 10 years. They were working illegally! But no one stopped them. For two foreign-based companies to be treating locals like this is disgusting. Not following the law is even worse,” added Mitchell.
“We’re asking authorities to look into this and help protect local jobs for the work that Bahamians can do. We’d like each question answered,” said Mitchell.
Bahamas Striping wants the authorities to look into the issuing of work permits for two foreign stripers skipping between jobs on the New Providence Road Improvement Project, the Sports Center roads and the Chinese Airport Gateway. According to Bahamas Striping president, Atario Mitchell, temporary work permits are by law project-specific whereby a foreigner worker can’t skip from one job to another. Shown here are two foreign stripers working along Marathon Road on the New Providence Road Improvement Project run by Argentine contractor, Jose Cartellone Constructiones Civiles (JCCC), on Monday June 18, 2012. Locals are asking about the legality of the permits, and why they are being issued when Bahamians can do the same work equally well. They are also asking whether NIB contributions are being made.