CGi warns population law is now ‘damaging Island way of life’

GUERNSEY is in grave danger of damaging its way of life unless the population management legislation is scrapped or radically improved.

The stark warning comes from the Confederation of Guernsey Industry, which says that the amendments to the new law, introduced in April, are creating a ‘skills drain’, leaving Island businesses chronically short of trained and experienced staff. This is now impacting CGi members and employers across Guernsey offering cleaning, catering, care, hospitality, retail, on-island transport and other vital services.

CGi Chairman Dave Newman, said; ‘The Population Management Law and the recent changes made to it by Home Affairs in April are appearing to make the situation worse. The legislation, in many cases, is simply not fit for purpose, it is broken.

‘Businesses affected by this are struggling as the staff they employ are classed as unskilled, but they are not. They are absolutely essential to Guernsey’s economy. One CGi member alone has had to halve its business as it is simply unable to keep employees due to the inflexibility of the law, the arbitrary changes constantly being made to it and the inefficiency of the Population Management office in processing applications within a reasonable timeframe.’

Unless the law is scrapped or some flexibility is permitted, our infrastructure and the way of life of the Island is in peril.’

The CGi has always maintained that the law was out of date when it was introduced in 2017 and made several public statements to that effect. The industry group was advised that following the review of the employment legislation, which allows for recruitment from outside the EU and the removal of the medium-term employment permits, issues would be alleviated, but this has not been the case. It believes the current issues created by Brexit and the housing crisis should also not be used to mask the inefficiencies of the legislation.

Mr Newman added: ‘The CGi accepts some of the issues are beyond the Island’s control however existing population management law is not. Population Management engaged with the CGi and the discussion we had were very productive. As a direct result of this dialogue, the CGi was willing to give the proposed changes some time to ‘bed in’ and hoped it would alleviate an already problematic situation. The CGi asked a number of its members to monitor how these changes were impacting on their businesses.

‘It is ironic that P&R wants to raise tax revenues through GST and other measures when this employment law is having the exact opposite effect. One of our member’s tax and social security contributions have plummeted as a direct consequence of the population legislation.

‘We believe that the case for action has been amply demonstrated by sectors across the Island so we now urge government to act and address this potentially catastrophic draining of skills from the Guernsey economy.’

The CGi also recognises that Population Management is having to work with the constraints of the current law and the difficulty it poses. It is willing to conduct joint talks with P&R, Home Affairs, which has responsibility for the legislation, Economic Development and industry sector representatives.

Leave a comment