Daily Archives: April 2, 2010

Barbadian Engineer: United Nations turned away Caribbean professional assistance in Haiti

Updated: December 9, 2010

The recent stories about Haiti’s political troubles and the UN being fingered for causing the recent outbreak of cholera bring us back to this story about the the UN’s refusal to use Caribbean engineers after the January 2010 earthquake.

We haven’t seen much progress in Haiti since the earthquake – with millions still camped in the open. We wonder about all the aid pledges and foreign assistance on the ground. Have things returned to “normal” with the rest of the Caribbean and the world content with the state of affairs? If Haiti wasn’t an island but was instead a part of Florida, would the response be the same?

Here’s our original article. Perhaps Bajan professional engineer Grenville Phillips II can provide an update from his perspective…

“15th January 2010 – I contacted the Secretary General of the Caribbean Council of Engineering Organisations (CCEO), and the Chairman of the Caribbean Division of the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) about surveying their members for a possible deployment…. we soon had a long list of Caribbean based structural engineers who volunteered to be deployed in Haiti, to help their fellow Caribbean brothers and sisters in their time of desperate need.”

… from the Weighed in the Balance article Haiti Deployment

What was the UN’s agenda in ignoring Caribbean Professionals?

The day after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Bajan professional engineer Grenville Phillips II started organising Caribbean structural engineers for deployment to Haiti to assist in evaluating the thousands of damaged schools, hospitals and other public buildings and to train Haitian engineers to perform the same task.

Short story: When Grenville arrived in Haiti, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) told Phillips (and through him the other Caribbean structural engineers) that their services were not needed and were not welcome. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, CARICOM, Disaster, Haiti

Rumour Mill: Virgin Manager Flouting Immigration Rules – Working over 6 months in Barbados with no work permit!

UPDATED: April 9, 2010 – email from Virgin Atlantic confirms no work permit issued for Regional Manager. “Interim solution” worked out with authorities…

To the Moderator/s of The Barbados Free Press

Virgin Atlantic always complies with all employment laws and requirements for all of its employees worldwide. On the rare occasion when work permits cannot be issued immediately for staff, Virgin Atlantic would always work in conjunction with the relevant authorities to work out an acceptable interim solution, as has been done on this occasion.

We hope our position is clearer and will make no further comment on the issue here.

Barbados Free Press responds to Virgin Atlantic Airways

Dear Virgin Atlantic,

Thanks for getting back to us with a straight answer to a straight question. It’s so rare these days to find large corporations willing to talk with citizens and customers in a forthright manner. The way Virgin addressed our concerns certainly enhanced our already high perceptions about your company’s operations. (It would make my father cringe if he were still around, but I vastly prefer Virgin over BA or “BOAC” as Dad would still call it for a decade after the BEA/BOAC merger!)

We didn’t think that Virgin would be ignoring the laws of Barbados, but judging by your information it is the same old story that our civil service wouldn’t be able to do anything in a timely fashion if their lives depended on it.

But that’s our problem, not Virgin’s.

The larger concern for Barbados is whether or not the inefficiencies and shenanigans of our civil service is impacting the willingness of investors and employers to work with Barbados.

Once again, thanks for getting back to us.

Robert for Barbados Free Press

UPDATED: April 8, 2010 – Email received from Virgin Atlantic re this article

To the Moderator/s of Barbados Free Press

We have recently become aware of comments on your blog related to Virgin Atlantic Airways.  While we fully respect peoples right to their own opinion we are deeply concerned that unsubstantiated comments and unfounded allegations have been targeted at the Regional Manager, we believe that public personal attacks of this nature by anonymous people are highly unfair to the targeted individual/s concerned.  Virgin Atlantic would take very seriously any allegations of this nature.  As moderators of this site we would appreciate it if you could review all the comments and specifically give consideration to deleting elements of individual comments (some of which had previously been deleted by BFP Editors on the original post) as appropriate.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Barbados Free Press responds to Virgin Atlantic Airways

Dear Virgin Atlantic,

Thanks for your email. We hadn’t noticed but you were correct – one of our readers re-posted the entire letter in the comments section, including the three paragraphs that we had deleted for our article. It seems that the author of the original letter sent it to a number of blogs so it’s still floating around out there on the Internet.

We’ve taken down that reader comment as we originally removed the three paragraphs because as far as we’re concerned they crossed the line.

We hope that addresses your concern.

Now… while we’ve got you here, please tell us: Does your Barbados regional manager have a work permit or not?


Marcus, Barbados Free Press

Original story…

From an anonymous reader (so let’s see what other information we can develop to confirm or refute this story)

How is it that certain companies and certain ethnicities can behave how they want in Barbados and get away from it?

Virgin Atlantic, a company with a traditionally healthy respect for the ways of the Caribbean, has chosen to send down a new Regional Manager without a work permit first being issued!

What makes it worse is that this new regional manager…

(Three sentences removed by BFP editors)

Can we get the Immigration Department to correct this bad situation? I doubt it.


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Immigration