Labour Minister, Stephenson King, has said that since the recent announcement of a crackdown on foreign nationals working here illegally, there has been a positive response.
“A number of employers and persons who probably may have violated the labour act which relates to work permits – section 316, we have seen a number of employers and other individuals coming forward to the Department of Labour Work Permit section requesting some form of regularisation,” King disclosed.
He explained in some instances the issue related to renewal of work permits while other cases warranted investigation.
According to King, in rare circumstances persons have provided reasons why their work permits have lapsed.
“We do appreciate the fact that those individuals have responded to the notice that was given a few weeks ago and understand the importance of operating within the framework of the law,” the minister said.
He revealed that the next step for the labour department will be to conduct a number of field visits to business places and locations where it is believed that work permit violations are taking place, to enforce the law.
King said he is very satisfied that the labour department has been able to execute its mandate.
Responding to a suggestion that the authorities here should have announced an amnesty prior to the crackdown on illegal workers here, King observed that although the recent notice did not speak of an amnesty, it is in effect an amnesty.
“In such cases what I have done is to ignore the fact that they have transgressed the law, ignore the fact that their work permits have lapsed by months and in one instance, a year – we have ignored that, giving them an unofficial amnesty. So there is a kind of amnesty being granted to those persons,” he stated.
However King explained that persons should not believe that the situation will continue without any redress.
“We will bring the law to bear and we will ensure that Saint Lucian laws are adhered to as far as the labour act is concerned,” the former Prime Minister asserted.