At the time, the premier appeared somewhat hesitant to expose the matter at the meeting, but his strong feelings on seemed to have caused him to speak out in favour of his fellow countrymen. He has since repeated that concern, indicating that his first disclosure of the alleged policy (on Friday 24th August, 2012), resulted in the hotel opening dialogue to address the matter.
He said he was recently approached by the Corporate Office in Toronto and has discussed a strategy that will identify Nevisians for a fast track program, which will prepare them for leadership positions at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Parry also indicated that they have ironed out an agreement in principle, which stipulates that the resort will seek to keep the employment level of expatriates at the present level.
Speaking at an NRP political rally in Brown Hill on Friday evening, (31st August, 2012), Premier Parry said that his government was of the view that Nevisian workers at the island’s flagship hotel were not getting a fair deal, and that too many expatriates were being placed in the supervisory and management positions.
He said that applications for work permits were often made on the basis that no local person could be found to fill positions, but he had reached a point where he was aware that even if locals applied, they were often overlooked for some reason or the other.
He said that he had told the management of Four Seasons that he would issue no more work permits to ex-pats unless he had a discussion with a representative of the owners or someone from the Corporate Head Office in Toronto, Canada.
There is no secret that in the past when the NRP was in opposition, Mr. Parry had expressed his dissatisfaction with certain policies and activities that were being pursued by the hotel and which he thought were not necessarily in the best interest of the island and its citizens. One such disagreement led to a demonstration, seeking to discourage the hotel from placing a set of boulders on the beach, to help, said the hotel, in protecting the hotel from hurricane strength waves, and the possible property destruction.
Ironically it was the destruction caused by a hurricane that did force the property to close for well over a year, leaving hundreds of Nevisians on the unemployment line. In the end, when Parry’s NRP gained power in 2006, one of the major tasks with which it soon found itself burdened with, was a strategy to get the Four Seasons reopened. The Premier had to take a lead role in working with the property owners with support from the federal government, in getting the hotel restarted.
However, though he has admitted that recognizes the importance of the property to the economy of the island, Parry is now flexing his muscles to show that his first loyalty is with the Nevisian workers.