Term Limits Meeting

I received via forward the email below which was sent out by Immigration Minister David Burch last night soliciting the views of Bermudians in International Business about term limits. I didn't receive it directly so I emailed Mr. Burch personally who confirmed its authenticity in remarkable brevity with the word "confirmed" (the tone suggested to me that it was legit).

Dear Bermudian Worker in International Business,

I have heard from every alphabet group in this country who purport to represent you and your industry and they have indicated to me that Work Permit Term Limits signal the death knell of international business in Bermuda. They have always cited that this will negatively affect Bermudians in the industry and so I want to hear from you.

Characteristically caustic, but unfortunately I am off the island and will not be able to attend. The timing is generally bad with schools on holiday and many Bermudian families traveling - but I'd encourage as many people as possible to go and make your opinion heard. IB touches every industry in Bermuda, if you're a direct employee, work in a restaurant, drive a taxi, work in a hotel or rent a house.

If you can't attend I'd suggest writing a Letter to the Editor expressing your views in advance or I am happy to compile feedback. Click the "feedback" link at the bottom of this post to reply to me.

The requirement to prove Bermuda status for entry is draconian and unnecessary but he's calling the shots.

I am extensively on record as opposing term limits for any number of reasons, including:


  • Term limits is window dressing to achieve a political outcome not a policy one.

  • The PLP change rationales regularly as to its purpose: preventing citizenship or creating opportunities for Bermudians being the most common alternating justifications. If it's about citizenship then a simple waiver already in place achieves that. If it's about opportunities then Immigration policies should already prevent non-Bermudians taking positions over qualified Bermudian applicants.
  • Employers are unwilling to lose term-limited employees, and will move expertise to our competitor jurisdictions, making them better competitors, hurting the Bermuda market and jump-starting new markets.

  • When positions leave Bermuda the associated Bermudian jobs go with them.

  • Whole departments previously serving as the entry point for professional Bermudians to enter the industry are shifting overseas (analytical, modeling, accounting, IT) because of term limits, denying young Bermudians opportunities.

  • Insurance/Reinsurance is largely a relationship business. Long term oriented businesses can't have forced turnover for no reason. Intellectual capital is the industry's most important asset and they're not going to see it hired away every 6 years.

  • The overwhelming number of non-Bermudians stay for less than 6 years anyway, so why have a policy in place that creates unnecessary uncertainty for employers and tries to solve a problem that doesn't exist? This policy simply churns expats as Immigration is willing to replace an expat for an expat resulting in unnecessary disruption and increase in cost.

  • This policy makes non-Bermudians more short term dollar oriented and is a disincentive to become involved in the community as you can be turfed out arbitrarily.

  • International business doesn't need internally generated uncertainties and attacks on them when they're already defending external ones.

I could go on, but here's the email in full.

From: Burch, David [mailto:dburch@gov.bm] Sent: Monday, March 15, 2010 5:34 PM Subject: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS IN BERMUDA

Dear Bermudian Worker in International Business,

I have heard from every alphabet group in this country who purport to represent you and your industry and they have indicated to me that Work Permit Term Limits signal the death knell of international business in Bermuda. They have always cited that this will negatively affect Bermudians in the industry and so I want to hear from you.

So what say you?

As the Minister currently responsible for Immigration - I wish to first of all share with you the policy and the reasons for its enactment and also to hear directly from you - those in the industry. Please join me on Thursday, 8 April at the Berkeley Institute starting at 5:30 p.m.

Come with your concerns and solutions.

This is not an opportunity to whine, but an opportunity to share relevant information about the industry and discuss viable solutions directly with me.

This is a private meeting for Bermudians only - no media - so that there can be an honest sharing of ideas. In this vein proof of Bermudian Status will be required. Please feel free to share this invitation with your fellow Bermudians in the industry.

Please feel free to share this email with everyone that you know who works in the industry.

We are keen to gain an understanding of how many we will be catering to - so please respond to biib@gov.bm.

Many thanks and I look forward to seeing you on April 8th.

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