Vanuatu’s Department of Labour has revoked work permits for 22 ‘non-citizens’ that work for two different companies.

The majority of the work permits revoked were for 21 foreign employees working for Mr Price and a single foreign employee working at the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) also had her work permit revoked.

Early this month the Acting Commissioner of Labour, John Tasso, wrote to the Chief Executive Officer of Mr Price informing the company of the revocation.

The Labour Office had received from Mr Price Asian Junction an application for temporary work permits in May for four months for its employees.

But after a visit in May by a Labour officer, the company was told to recruit 10 ni-Vanuatu, which it agreed to do so.

Then the Acting Commissioner himself visited the work site at Melcofe area opposite the Tana Russet Plaza, and he raised disappointment that the construction needed was not complicated and no technical skills were needed as ni-Vanuatu were available to do the job.

As a result, 21 foreign employees that had their occupation as Technician Auto Machinery, Accountant, General Manager, Technician- wood machinery, Technical electrician, Technical engineer, Wood carving auto machinery, Head of technician engineer, Wood and Furniture Carver and Design, Polytechnic Technician, Wood and Furniture Carver and Designer, Wood and Furniture Dept/Designer, Technician auto machinery, Technical Engineer Trainee, Accounting Manager/Assistant, and Head of Wood and Furniture Designer had their work permits revoked on June 1.

Members of the public had observed much of the work done at the Mr Price construction site being done manually, some with garden tools.

Around the same time at the end of the month of May the Labour Department also revoked the work permit of an Australian female foreign worker that had taken up a managerial role at VNPF.

Labour Department’s investigations had found that this newly appointed manager had entered Vanuatu as an investor and issued with an investor’s certificate by the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA).

The VIPA certificate permitted her to operate in the category of advertising and marketing services and consultant as well as human resources training.

Labour said a work permit applied for in December 2017 stated that VNPF had agreed to employ a non-citizen due to her qualification for a managerial role.

The application for work permit was done on behalf of VNPF by a private consultancy agency owned by a ni-Vanuatu.

Investigations also found that there were other ni-Vanuatu applicants for the job that had Masters Degree or Bachelors Degree, which are higher qualifications than the advanced diploma of the female Australian employee.

The VNPF female employee’s work permit was revoked on May 31.

The Labour Department denounced the action of coming into Vanuatu as an investor with the intention of finding employment in the country.

Meanwhile, VNPF and Mr Price have been informed of their rights of appeal for their employees within 14 days.

The appeal of the decision made by the Commissioner of Labour is made to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat.

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