Michael Pemberton and Robin Paterson, executive directors of developers Cinnamon 88, told the SUNDAY SUN the delay in starting the four seasons project was costing millions of dollars. Pemberton said while the resort needed a minimum of 200 workers to have a viable start, by December they would need 500, and then 800 at the peak of construction mid-next year.
“We are all frustrated. We can’t start those who want to work because we have to start everyone at the same time.” He said the delays were resulting in bad publicity for Barbados, and eroding the confidence of Four Seasons in setting up a brand here.
Mike Pemberton from all reports is a man with a lot of money and he has significant investments in Barbados. His attempt to get the Four Seasons hotel project up an running, on the blighted former Butch Stewart owned property has been well documented. His recent PR gaff by going public that he intended to use Chinese labour has triggered a political melee which Pemberton has stated is the cause of his project being two months behind. It is no secret that the issue of immigrant labour (dealt with in many BU articles) for Barbadians is one which causes emotions to spark. The Nation article reports that Robin Patterson, Pemberton’s partner confirmed that:-
“More than 50 per cent of the people who came for an interview are working here illegally. So I think Barbados has a problem in itself if it has a significant amount of immigrant workers working illegally in the construction industry.”
The Barbados government has been raked over the coals on how it has managed immigrant labor in Barbados. BU have even been accused of being xenophobic. If we take Patterson’s word that 50% of the applicants to the Four Seasons project have illegal status and according to the Nation report, Immigration officials were present at the recent job interviews, then it seems we have a problem. We have a construction industry which is currently booming and appear to be supported by a large illegal immigrant population. Regrettably, BU and Barbadians have been “hollering hard” that it is a situation which is unsustainable.
With a general election imminent the government of Barbados is now forced to play politics with a multi-million dollar project which is needed to improve the tourist product and which has been taking hit after hit in recent times. We can criticize Pemberton for his PR gaffs, we can criticize the lack of an alien investment policy, we can criticize many things; what we cannot deny is the large immigrant population which all indicators point to, reflects poorly on how our Immigration Department is managing our ports of entry into Barbados.
Our criticism is not meant to be anti-CSME or anti-foreign labor; it is what it has always been. A concern that our open door immigration policy will create political and social pressures which will cause our beautiful little country to implode.
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