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The Department of Labour has stated that it continues to be understaffed and under-budgeted, which impeded its proper functioning and ability to deliver the requisite services to its customers. This was the view expressed in the department's 2011 report.
One unit that continues to grapple is the Inspection Unit, which consists of two officers stationed on Tortola and one officer on Virgin Gorda.
"With only two inspectors on Tortola, it is virtually impossible to inspect 6,428 employers in the Territory. Furthermore, the officers are often called to sit in on dispute matters, compile reports and perform other labour-related matters, thus reducing the volume of inspections that can be undertaken," the report pointed out.
The report proposed the strengthening of the Inspection Unit by providing the necessary training for all inspectors to ensure that the health and safety of all employers and employees are in compliance.
Additionally, the report also recommended the training to ensure a vigorous inspection campaign is initiated by the unit that will focus on increasing the number of unannounced inspections, outer island inspections, night and weekend inspections, surveillances, spot checks, work permit investigations and employers/employees complaints.
The Labour Department said that they are committed to changing the nature of the lens with which the public views the department as a work permit processing department.
"Our aim is to strengthen and enforce public and private capacity by providing effective and efficient services through the establishment of an Employment Services Unit, which will cater to all employment needs in the Territory," the department's report stated.
As part of the report, the department pointed out that they can only be as efficient as there are adequate numbers of trained officers to carry out the work of the department, especially as mandated by the Labour Code.
"The staff complement of the department is currently under review and recommendations have been submitted for consideration," the report pointed.
Statistics provided by the department show that in in 2011, on Tortola the department processed 9,089 permits, which excluded the processing of replacement cards.
Some 986 new permits were processed with the highest amount of 102 being issued during the month of June. There were 16 new self-employed permits issued, 61 new part time permits, 611 change of employer permits, 875 temporary permits and 80 entertainment permits.
According to the department, some 94 permits were denied and 563 permits were cancelled. As it relates to renewals, the department processed some 5694 renewal permits, 7 self-employed renewals and 102 renewal permits for part time employees.
On Virgin Gorda, the department processed 1,904 permits. Some 1,078 were renewals, 143 were new permits, 121 were change of employer, 456 temporary permits, while 24 permits were denied and 82 cancelled.
At the end of 2011, the Labour Department on Tortola resolved 161 disputes of the 209 cases they received. Two of the cases were withdrawn and 46 were unsettled.
The Virgin Gorda branch received 155 cases, settled 137 disputes and left 12 unsettled by the end of 2011. Three cases were passed to the Commissioner and three were withdrawn or not pursued.