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Report
On the Matter of Julius Gittens
of Barbados
Prepared by
The Labour Department of
Antigua and Barbuda
Dated
6th February 2002

Report on the Matter of Julius Gittens
of Barbados - Passport # 0515626

Background:
There is a prohibition against employment of non-nationals in Antigua and Barbuda as set out in section F4 of The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code, Cap. 27 of the Laws of Antigua and Barbuda, which states: "A person who is not a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda shall not engage in employment or self-employment in Antigua and Barbuda unless he has obtained a work permit issued by or on behalf of the Minister."

Section F5 sets out the application procedure for work permit as per: (1) "Application for a work permit, or its renewal or extension, shall be made by or on behalf of the person for whom the work permit is sought by the filing, with the Employment Service of the Labour Department, of an application in the form prescribed in the First Schedule completed in triplicate, and, unless the applicant is a self-employed person, said application must be accompanied by a statement in triplicate completed by the intended employer, in the form prescribed in the Second Schedule."
(2) "On every application for a work permit, or renewal thereof a fee of ten dollars shall be paid by or on behalf of the applicant."
Upon receipt of an application, the Chief of the Employment Service conducts an investigation of the conditions surrounding any application for a work permit, and makes a report and recommendation to the Minister, who shall decide whether or not, and under what conditions the permit should be granted.
In 1999, the process was simplified and depoliticised for better transparency and accountability. By regulation under the aegis of Section F11 of the Law: "The Minister may issue regulations, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Division, for the administration thereof." The process then became:

Application for work permit - filling two sets of forms in triplicate and paying an application fee of $10.00 to the Treasury.
Taking the application form and the receipt ($10.00) from Treasury to the Employment Service at the Labour Department. When and if the application is recommended, a bill would then be issued in the amount stipulated by the work permit fee schedule, to be paid at the Treasury. Again the Treasury receipt is to be returned to the Labour Department at which time a permission to work letter is given to the individual pending the signature/authorization of the Minister. The applicant, after receiving a letter of "permission to work," is instructed to return to the Labour Department within one to two weeks for collection of the signed work permit.

Upon receipt of the signed work permit the individual must then take the work permit to the Immigration Department for the appropriate time to be entered in the passport. Prior to the expiration of a work permit, the individual if desirous of continuing to work within the State, should submit a new work permit application at least 2 weeks before the expiration of the current permit.

There has not been any problems with this process.

Situation:
Mr. Julius Gittens arrived in Antigua in April, 2001. The Labour Commissioner, who is the Chief of the Employment Service, was only made aware of his presence in a "working capacity" when other media personnel in Antigua enquired whether the position at Observer Radio had been advertised prior to their employing Mr. Gittens, and whether he had been issued with a Work Permit by the competent authority.
The Labour Commissioner proceeded to enquire of the owners/ managers of Observer Radio as to how it could be possible that they were employing non-nationals without first obtaining a work permit. The response was that "Caricom Nationals working in the media do not need a work permit." They were advised otherwise. Observer Radio followed up the discussion with the Labour Commissioner by writing a letter challenging the need for work permit in the case of Journalists - letter of April 17, 2001.

The Labour Commissioner responded to the letter explaining the laws of Antigua and Barbuda which governs the situation and requested that Mr. Gittens (and Mr. Rogers) comply. Subsequently a meeting between the Labour Commissioner and Messrs Rogers and Julius Gittens resulted in an "accommodation" for Mr. Gittens. (Rogers agreed to abide by the laws and applied for the Work Permit). The accommodation was arrived at when Gittens informed the Commissioner that he was only in Antigua at that time to effect a six (6) weeks training. This was confirmed in writing by Observer Radio in a letter to the Labour Commissioner, dated May 23, 2001.
The Labour Commissioner sought the courtesy of the Chief Immigration Officer in a letter dated May 24, 2001, "for Mr. Gittens to conduct a six weeks training programme with them (Observer Radio) without the formalities of a Work Permit, on the condition that he obtains the necessary stay time from your Department covering the period, up to June 15, 2001.

Mr. Gittens did not follow through by presenting himself to the Chief Immigration Officer for the extension. When he left the State at the end of the training period, he was in violation of the Immigration Laws, even after he assured the Labour Commissioner it would have been done on the very day the copy of the letter was forwarded to him.

Mr. Gittens returned to Antigua in July 2001 and proceeded to work at Observer Radio without a work permit. He was cautioned by the Labour Commissioner and asked to have his status regularized. He readily agreed to do so, but after some three (3) weeks of non-compliance, and many unheeded reminders, the Labour Commissioner sought the assistance of a local colleague of Mr. Gittens, Mr. Everton Barnes. Mr. Barnes was asked to please advise Mr. Gittens that should he fail to submit his application the next day, August 14, 2001, the Chief Immigration Officer would have been alerted to take action against him. Mr. Gittens arrived at the Labour Department on 14th August, 2001 with an application form for a Work Permit, completed by himself and by his employer. On scrutinizing his passport and the application form, the Commissioner realized that Mr. Gittens application was incomplete, and that he had no extension from the Chief Immigration Officer.
Mr. Gittens was accommodated in the spirit of professional courtesy and respect by the Labour Commissioner. He was advised to go to the Government Treasury and complete the application process as per section F5 (2) of the Law. The Government Treasury is located within a 10-15 minutes walking distance. In an effort to "fast track"/assist the applicant - not an unusual discretion - he was provided with the bill for the work permit fees at the same time. He was guided that his work permit would have been recommended. He accepted the responsibility and actually expressed his appreciation for the "patience" and then "kindness" of the Commissioner in "facilitating his application." His statement afterwards was "I'll return shortly because I see that this thing must be done today." He acknowledged he would return to the "Work Permit Unit" for them to issue him with a Permission to Work document pending the signing of his Work Permit.

Mr. Julius Gittens never followed through on his words, or on the trust place in him by the Labour Department. He never completed the application process. He knew that should he fail to do so he would have been working and staying in Antigua illegally.
In October, 2001, Mr Julian Rogers asked the Labour Commissioner why his and Mr. Gittens' permits were not yet available. He was advised that while they have their Permission to Work documents they had nothing to worry about, but that the Commissioner would have enquired of the Hon. Minister. The enquiry was made. Sometime after this enquiry, the Barbados Consul to Antigua and Barbuda Mr. Pedro Corbin asked the Labour Commissioner to continue the enquiry, and this was done in late December 2001.

In January 2002, using the premise of annual audit, The Commissioner guided the Hon. Minister towards effecting the actual permit. Subsequently, The Hon. Minister informed the Labour Commissioner that while he had the application and relevant information to complete the process from Mr. Julian Rogers, there was nothing from Mr. Gittens. The Labour Commissioner was quick to point out to him that maybe he had "missed" Mr. Gittens' application. The Hon. Minister did not take too kindly to the Labour Commissioner's remarks, and requested immediate proof of Mr. Gittens' work permit application.

In this vein the Labour Commissioner sought the proof from the Senior Employment Officer, who subsequently informed him that there was no record of Mr. Gittens application. An intense review of the records was ordered and effected over three days, at the end of which time, it was clear that Mr. Gittens had not returned to the Labour Department since he left with the Application form and the Bill on August 14, 2001. The matter was further compounded by the fact that the Labour Commissioner learnt that Mr. Gittens had not sought an extension from Immigration during this period. Immigration never acted against him because they were of the view he had a Permission to Work authorization. Even so, believing the matter could have been one of gross negligence by Mr. Gittens, although some officers were of the view that it was a link in the "pattern of disrespect and contempt for the Labour Department displayed by Mr. Gittens since his arrival in Antigua in April, 2001," the Labour Commissioner contacted the Manager of Observer Radio, Mr. Julian Rogers, who has also been acting as "guardian" of Mr. Gittens since he arrived in the State. Mr. Rogers was informed that while his (Rogers) documents were in order and that he would have his Work Permit stamped in his passport "next week" - this contact was on 25.1.02 - "could you and Mr. Gittens please come and see me, and bring his receipts?"

The Commissioner was assured that they would visit him on Monday 28th January with the documents/receipts. When they did not turn up Mr. Rogers was again contacted on the afternoon of January 28, at which time he said they would visit the Labour Department on Tuesday 29. On Tuesday afternoon he told the Labour Commissioner they would visit him on Wednesday 30. On Wednesday at 1:00 pm., knowing he had a deadline of Thursday 31, to provide proof to the Hon. Minister - that as Labour Commissioner of the State he did not "willfully aide and abett Mr. Gittens in violating the Immigration and Work Permit laws of the nation,..." the Commissioner again called for Mr. Rogers. He was not at work, but a kind employee facilitated their private numbers when the Labour Commissioner identified himself and explained the urgency of the request.

When Mr. Julian Rogers answered the phone, his words on recognizing the caller were:
"Mr. Commissioner, I am sorry, but we forgot ... we will be with you shortly." After waiting for them for three hours, the Labour Commissioner called again. This time Mr. Rogers stated - "Commissioner, boy, I don't even know what to tell you. That boy Julius is too careless, he is not serious, look how you have put your neck out, and now the boy can't find the receipts. You just give him a call right now, he is at home looking for them."

The Labour Commissioner called Mr. Gittens and his response was "Commissioner. I can't find the receipts, I am still searching, I have all night. Could I come and see you in the morning with them?" The Labour Commissioner explained his difficulty with the whole thing. Mr. Gittens responded by stating words to the effect that he had no one to blame but himself for the situation. When the Labour Commissioner asked him why he had not returned to the office as was promised on August 14, 2001, he mumbled "I don't even know - that was so long ago - anyway I will have all the receipts early in the morning."

The Labour Commissioner advised Mr. Gittens that he usually arrive at his office by 8:30 am., but that the urgency of the situation will force him to be in office by 8:00 am. Mr. Gittens responded, "Commissioner thanks for your patience, I'll be there at 8:00."

On Thursday morning, the hours sped on, but there was no Mr. Gittens, in words or in person. Narry a call! Nothing! At 11:00 am., the Labour Commissioner decided that enough was too much! He concluded that the actions of Mr. Gittens since his arrival in Antigua and Barbuda in April 2001, accumulatively reflected contempt for the Offices of the Labour Commissioner and the Chief of Immigration, that Mr. Gittens' actions also reflected his initial position that Caricom Nationals who were Journalist should not be bothered by the National laws of Sovereign States. The Labour Commissioner was not prepared to accept that! Acceptance of this position is the beginning of institutional anarchy! Antigua and Barbuda is a Sovereign State with its Sovereign Laws!
Furthermore, the Chief Immigration Officer had also extended "the courtesy of free movement passage through Immigration" in Antigua and Barbuda to Mr. Gittens and Rogers, "without the legal requirement for the production of a return ticket to their country of origin or to another country that will accept them" as long as they "present their passports along with their temporary permission to work." Thursday January 31, 2002 (offer dated 25.01.02) Mr. Gittens was the only one who could not respond to Immigration.
The Labour Commissioner was forced to inform the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, and other competent authorities including the Management of Observer Radio, of the situation and of his position on the matter. In doing so the Commissioner articulated his solution to Mr. Gittens' consistent acts of contempt for the two offices - "ask Mr. Gittens to leave the Country until such time as he will abide by the work permit and Immigration laws."
That decision having been filed , the applicant found and submitted the following documents by fax in the late afternoon of Thursday 31 January, 2002.

Bill issued on 14.8.01 by the Labour Department
Cheque issued to the Accountant General, dated 15.8.01, and paid in on 7.11.01
A receipt issued by Treasury on 7.11.01.
The employer claimed that the cheque was issued on 15.8.01 but only paid in on 7.11.01 because it was originally written to Inland Revenue rather than the Accountant General. It took the employer and the employee two months and twenty-three (23) days (84 days) to amend the cheque! No further comment on this cheque and bill payment date at this time!
No application for the Work Permit has been made to date.
For the year 2001 the preliminary report indicates that Antigua and Barbuda through the Labour Department granted 5739 work permits as outlined below with no problems.

WORK PERMITS GRANTED IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA BY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN 2001
BARBADOS 38
CANADA 57
CHINA 68
DOMINICA 625
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 289
ENGLAND 225
FRANCE 25
GERMANY 38
GHANA 28
GRENADA 39
GUYANA 1516
ITALY 48
JAMAICA 1387
LEBANON 38
MONTSERRAT 188
THE NETHERLANDS, HOLLAND, SCOTLAND 28
NIGERIA 117
ST. KITTS NEVIS 21
ST. LUCIA 118
ST. VINCENT 111
SWITZERLAND 18
SYRIA 86
TRINIDAD TOBAGO 173
U.S.A. 161
REST OF WORLD 297
TOTAL 5739

Again, the Commissioner has concluded that Mr. Gittens' actions reek with contempt for the Labour and Immigration Laws of the land. As the appointed administrator of the Labour Laws, and as the facilitator between Mr. Gittens and the Chief Immigration Officer, the recommendation for Mr. Gittens to leave the Country, until he would have believed it fit and wise for him to respect these laws, is fair, just, accountable and right! He needs further to apologize to these officers and the Nation for his crass behaviour.

High Commission for Antigua and Barbuda
2nd floor, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP

Tel: 020 7258 0070 Fax: 020 7258 7486

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