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Employment concerns at Barbuda’s Peace, Love and Happiness project

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By Kadeem Joseph

As the PRO for the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) in Barbuda warns of possible job losses if a proposed Peace, Love and Happiness (PLH) stop order from the Council is honoured, a member of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) is chiding developers for not employing enough locals.

ABLP PRO in Barbuda, Orlando Morris, said, “A stop order puts people out of work and these people have families to feed.”
He added that when the ABLP led the Council and signed the lease for the project, it was agreed that 80 per cent of the workforce would have been Antiguan and Barbudan residents.

Morris also contends that the stop order request was premature.

“We’re not saying that investors should have a free-for-all to do whatever they like; all we are saying is that you just don’t issue a stop order because you observed something without sitting down with persons,” he said.

He believes that problems could have been avoided if the Barbuda Council had raised their concerns with the developers.

But the Deputy Chairman of the BPM which leads the Council, Mackenzie Frank, said while at least one of the PLH leases stipulated that a miniumum 75 Barbudans should have been employed in the first six months of the project, at present the labour force consists of mostly foreign workers.

“What I’ve witnessed is that most of the labour force is coming from outside. There are some Mexicans, there are people coming over from Santa Domingo,” he lamented. “And so the Barbudans are not the major part of the labour force up there. I checked some weeks ago and I was told that they were somewhere in the region of 15 to 20 Barbudans.”

Frank said that the issue is unfair to residents and he is calling for management of the PLH project to ensure that the employment agreements are honoured.

Under the PLH project, there will be development of luxury homes at Coco Point, with further plans to build 300 luxury homes at Palmetto Point around a golf course. The Barbuda Council wrote to the Development Control Authority on February 17 requesting a stop order until key environmental concerns can be addressed.

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