On the Matter of Julius Gittens
The Labour Department of
Antigua and Barbuda
6th February 2002
Report on the Matter of Julius Gittens
of Barbados - Passport # 0515626
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.
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
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
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
|WORK PERMITS GRANTED IN
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA BY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN 2001
|THE NETHERLANDS, HOLLAND, SCOTLAND
|ST. KITTS NEVIS
|REST OF WORLD
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.