Foreigners are frequently employed in the Caribbean Netherlands and such employment is regulated by law. The “Wet arbeid vreemdelingen” for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES) forbids foreigners to work in the Caribbean Netherlands without a valid work permit TWV. The law is intended to protect the local labour market and to prevent unfair competition between businesses and with regard to employment conditions.
In order to understand developments in relation to the number of aliens working with a work permit, the Unit Social Affairs and Labour of the Dutch Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN conducted a trend analysis.
In the period 2011-2016, a total of 8,297 applications for work permits were filed by employers at the Social Affairs and Labour Unit. On Bonaire and St. Eustatius, almost one out of 10 employees is a foreigner working with a work permit; on Saba, the corresponding number is one in five.
The trend analysis shows that after an increase in the influx of foreigners with work permits in 2012 and 2013, the number of employers applying for a work permit decreased.
On Bonaire, temporary employment agencies or secondment agencies are used more often than in the past. This results in a more flexible deployment of staff in the labour market.
On St. Eustatius, a large metal company has been active since 2012 and has many aliens working on the basis of a work permit. These findings are a clear signal that the functioning of the labour market has changed in the Public Entities.
Most foreigners come from the Dominican Republic and other countries in the region such as Venezuela, Colombia and Peru, but they also come from China. On Bonaire and St. Eustatius, foreigners are mainly men (70-80 per cent), while on Saba, men and women are represented almost equally among foreign workers.
On the one hand, the small size of the islands implies that not all positions can be filled by the local labour force. A professor of medicine, for example, has no option of earning the relevant degree on the islands and it is also a very specific position. On the other hand, one wonders whether foreigners are actually needed to work as bricklayers and hairdressers, for example.
The primary focus of the analysis was on investigating how foreign labour had developed in the period 2011-2016. The Public Entity Bonaire (“Openbaar Lichaam Bonaire” (OLB)) has commissioned an exploratory study of the situation of immigrants on Bonaire. This trend analysis and the study among immigrants will serve as the basis for further discussion as to whether the policy regarding foreigners should be amended. Therefore, the trend analysis will also be submitted to the Public Entities and other relevant organisations. The report by the RCN Social Affairs and Labour Unit can be found on www.rijksdienstcn.com/ publicaties. The report of the OLB can be found on www.bonairegov.com.
The Daily Herald.