Labour Department officials are working feverishly to establish a small office on Barbuda for the processing of work-related documents and other basic functions that are currently unavailable on the island.
Labour Commissioner Eltonia Rojas made the disclosure in a recent interview while explaining that the absence of a Labour Department in Barbuda has created a significant strain on communication between the islands. It has placed Barbudans at a great disadvantage because they are required to travel back and forth between the two islands for the processing of work-permits, self-employed permits and other important documents.
“There are things going on in Barbuda which have to be dealt with and it is very unfair and expensive for people to have to travel to Antigua.
“Take for instance the processing of work-permits, an individual on Barbuda has to source the form which is available in Antigua, a section of the form has to be filled out by the applicant and the other by the employer who is on Barbuda, prior to submission on Antigua, that form has to be taken to the Government Treasury and a processing fee has to be paid before it is eventually processed by the Labour Department,” Rojas.
She further stated that if there are discrepancies in the application, that applicant would be required to return to Antigua for a follow-up interview with the Labour Department.
Rojas said previously the government department was relying on two officers, employed by the Barbuda Council, to assist in providing certain services to Barbudans, however, this was ineffective as they were not always available.
The Labour Commissioner said they are now looking to train two people to occupy the small office, which will be established later this year, and the two Barbudans currently employed by the council will get first preference.
She said they will also be seeking to ensure that these two people are equipped with the basic necessities such as housing and other accommodations to ensure that they are able to perform their duties in a comfortable manner.
“These people will be stationed on Barbuda, and from Antigua, we are hoping to have scheduled periodic visits to the island to monitor what is happening,” Rojas said.