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WAPA Executive Director Addresses Senators Increased Concerns

(Tuesday, February 10, 2015)

February 9, 2015

WAPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ADDRESSES SENATORS INCREASED CONCERNS
ABOUT HIRING PRACTICES OF VITOL AND ITS SUBCONTRACTORS

V.I. Water and Power Authority Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr. on Monday sought to clarify allegations that VITOL, WAPA’s contractor for the propane conversion project, and its subcontractors are not adhering to the letter of the law as it relates to the hiring of workers for the projects underway on St. Thomas and St. Croix. In fact, to date, two senators have gone public with allegations that the WAPA contractor is importing skilled workers to the territory and bypassing local hires.

Responding to another public statement made today about the matter, Hodge noted that WAPA is not hiring any workers for the turnkey project. “VITOL is obligated by its contract with the Authority to follow, and to ensure that its sub-contractors follow, the laws of the Virgin Islands, to include hiring requirements as mandated by law.” He explained that VITOL has posted its vacancies with the Department of Labor and it is only when those vacancies cannot be filled locally with qualified tradesmen and laborers that the company seeks to locate workers from other jurisdictions. “This is what the law provides for, that the jobs be posted and where the qualified personnel exist, the positions be filled. But unlike other non U.S. jurisdictions where governments can impose requirements on hiring of locals only, we are part of the United States and as such, must follow the laws that require that we do not discriminate in the hiring of U.S. residents for these types of projects,” Hodge said.

“I would strongly recommend that persons seeking to be employed by VITOL or its subcontractors take note of the filings at the Department of Labor and follow the process to be interviewed, and where necessary tested, to determine qualifications for the various positions available,” Hodge said Monday. “It is easy to cry foul about the hiring practices of a company without full knowledge of the extent to which the company is trying to hire locally. “The company is posting its vacancies, if Virgin Islanders are not responding to those posts or cannot prove their qualifications for the specific jobs, VITOL and its subcontractors cannot be faulted for looking beyond the shores of the Virgin Islands to identify a pool of workers to complete these time sensitive projects in the two districts,” Hodge said.

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