Business staffing plans should be public

| 17/03/2015 | 35 Comments
Cayman News Service

Ezzard Miller in the LA (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS): The public needs to have access to business staffing plans so they can see exactly how local companies are hiring, training, promoting or firing Caymanians, the independent member for North Side has stated. Ezzard Miller has tabled a private member’s motion that he hopes will be the first step towards real transparency and allow the public a much broader understanding of what is really happening among the islands’ largest employers.

Miller said the people are being misled by government and other commentators promoting the idea that when work permit numbers increase, job opportunities for locals increase. The MLA said it was a myth being perpetuated and he wondered, if more work permits were not taking jobs from locals then who, exactly, were the jobs being taken from.

“Arguments that work permits generate more jobs for local people are flawed,” he told CNS.

As the debate surrounding unemployment and employability becomes increasingly acrimonious,  government is battling with inaccurate figures regarding the unemployed, ongoing lay-offs in the face of rising permit numbers, ever-more employer infractions of the labour law, and what some say is the biggest problem of all –depressed wages.

Transparency is now being heralded as one of the solutions and government has plans to implement a new system at immigration that will increase this. Employment Minister Tara Rivers has also called for much more transparency surrounding the actual job vacancies that exist, including those held by permit holders.

The issue was brought into sharp focus when a handful of major employers in the financial sector were able to suppress a freedom of information request that would have shed light on the current situation regarding employers and permits. Ernst and Young led a group of firms in a successful injunction gagging the local press and preventing publication of the details, as they claim the salary information of individuals could have been deduced from the documentation, which was a spreadsheet of all the permits held by employers, including the nationality of the holders, the posts and the earnings.

However, Miller says this is exactly the kind of information that needs to be public so that people can see if employers and the boards are following the law when it comes to the application for and the granting of permits.

“Salaries are already public knowledge anyway as they must be included in job advertisements relating to permits,” he pointed out, as he urged government to back the publication of this type of human resource information.

He said access to business staffing plans would explode the myth and said his own research has revealed that firms with large numbers of managers on permits don’t necessarily create support posts for locals. Miller pointed to one medium-sized firm that had permits for 30 secretaries — an inexplicable situation when so many local people qualified as secretaries were on the market.

The MLA is also concerned that the Economics and Statistics Office is not accurately reflecting the real unemployment figures. He says the claim that it is running at 6% overall is distorted because, with just 55% of the workforce being Caymanian, there should be no unemployed locals, so the unemployment figure cannot be a reflection of the entire labour market but only local workers. As a result, Miller said, the real unemployment rate among Caymanians is more like 11%.  He said figures were being dumbed down to help government look better and the systems to help locals were falling short.

With no affirmative action, law employers are simply able to apply for permits, he said. He said he has also been led to believe, via documentation he has seen, that in the immediate wake of the recent NWDA/CITA job drive, which caused considerable controversy, over 100 permits were granted to the employers involved. With a restaurant on Seven Mile Beach holding permits for 20 food and beverage servers, he asked why the 87 locals cleared by CITA and the NWDA did not get those jobs.

“Government needs to begin cancelling permits until all Caymanians who are actively looking for work have a suitable job,” Miller told CNS. “It has to deliver a firm message that local workers need to be employed. Until the day comes and government accepts their responsibility through the work permit process to ensure every Caymanian can get access to the jobs available, employers will continue to dodge their legal obligation in favour of cheap labour.”

Miller argues that permits can be cancelled before they end and that anytime that a qualified and suitable local workers shows up, the employer is obligated to replace the permit holder. He said the fact that an employer can get rebates on permits demonstrates the legislators’ intention with the immigration law. He said transparency and making business staffing plans public would enable those looking for work to truly see what’s available and what qualifications or experience the permit holders have to ensure they can match them.

“Being able to see what positions and when they are available will give Caymanians the chance to meet the criteria of the job descriptions and be ready when the position will be available,” Miller said. “This requires much more honesty from employers but it needs government to go beyond that.”

He said it was impossible for volunteer boards to deal with 22,000 permits.

“You can’t look at 500 applications one day a week and have the system work properly. The business staffing plan board is no longer fit for purpose. What we need now is a paid fulltime board, and enforcement officers working for it and enforcing the law,” Miller said.

Illustrating his point, he said that both he and East End MLA Arden McLean had recently contacted the board with concerns about specific employers but neither of them had received a response nor were their concerns documented by the board in any of its minutes.

“If two sitting members of parliament can’t get the board’s attention, how can a regular worker hope to get the board to listen?” he asked.

The independent member said government’s recent announcements about plans for a more transparent system would be a step in the right direction but he was concerned about them following through.

“We have been promised significant improvements for years; the previous employment minister promised to solve everything but we are still waiting,” he added.

Miller said the people were frustrated over the lack of enforcement but more transparency, he believes, would show clearly where the law was being bent or circumvented.

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Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    Simple response in NO. Personally I feel that there is an issue with regards to immigration and job availability, but that is due to lack of background checks and confirmation of education. Being exclusive is the wrong way forward.

  3. Anonymous says:

    On deportation, the expat should be allowed to take their pensions and not have to wait two years.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nunsense. As usual.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The jealousy of the success of the Cayman Islands that was set in motion by the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly in the late 1960’s is unreal. Where were all of the expats then? A few did come later and were instrumental in helping to establish Cayman as a prime location to do business due primarily the stability of the Cayman government. Nowadays anyone that steps off the plane wants to take credit for the foresight of those visionary Caymanians that set it all in motion. You may think you work hard but you will never work as hard and accomplish as much as an expat like W.S. Walker for example.

    Fast forward to today and there are a few HUNDRED mostly blue chip international companies on a waiting list sidelined until the Enterprise City Campus is built. And wait for it….Enterprise City is the initiative of a true blood legacy CAYMANIAN. Now that the new Caymanian Enterprise City has established where the site of their Campus will be, starting in April the roads in the immediate area to be widened to accommodate the expansion in the area. From what I have been privy to these high quality NEW companies only want to know what the rules are so they can follow them. Too bad for you if the Cayman Islands Government wants to progress into the future and update legislation to create a more level playing field for all, regardless of who the mover of the motion is. Too bad too sad if such a move does not fit your personal agenda.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just for clarity, who was the true blood legacy Caymanian that had the Cayman Enterprise City Initiative? From my recollection it was the initiative of Jason Blick and Cindy O’Hara at least those were the two principals at the launch at the Ritz Carlton when it was announced.

      Maybe you can clarify or provide a factual reference for your comment?

    • Sandboy says:

      Hey little islander, enterprise zones have been common place in Europe and the UK for decades, they are not some great Caymanian invention. All that happened was that someone, (probaly an expat) thought it would be a good idea to stimulate a dying economy.
      Stop trying to pretend that Caymanians somehow forged this world player in business and banking. Firstly it is not, and secondly, it was originally fostered by the banks themselves as few people outside of these huge corporations had the experience or knowledge to set up the processes needed. No, these businesses were self built, all the LA did was pass the laws enabling such business to relocate here and in the meantime skim huge sums of crooked money off for themselves and their cronies.
      Ah, but you don’t like to talk about the industrial size money laundering business, or those who privately laundered billions and became some of this islands wealthiest individuals. You don’t like to acknowledge that your past is less than clean or that your future in the financial industry is hanging on a fine thread. Perhaps you’d like to talk about the reasons that Cayman is blacklisted by almost every high street bank in the world due to the fear of criminal enterprise, tax evasion and money laundering. No? Didn’t think so. The reputation of Cayman is already seriously damaged after years of greed and self interest, giving Ezzards clueless rantings credibility would only destroy what’s left.
      And as for the CI government wanting to progress into the future. They won’t do that all the time they have half wit dinosaurs sitting in the LA.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the point you were trying to make was lost in your post somewhere. I’m sure it is there but I am not sure what it is.

    • Anonymous says:

      Really? The Father of Captive insurance companies here and elsewhere was Fred Reiss of IRMG. Which cayman family was he from?

    • The Watcher says:

      Strange, the history I have is that the off shore / international finance packed up due to the instability of the Bahamas and their subsequent slide into Independence. This took about 15 years to get off their ass and shake the Lynden Pidling ghost from the Machine. Only then did they realise that all the expertise and business had left, they produced nothing, so they looked to developing tourism and eventually they started to break even again.
      Cayman inherited the finance industry and offshore banking for no other reason than it was a stable, secure overseas territory within the operating time zone of the United States and South America. Those that didnt depend on this went to the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

      It was not because of the beaches, the climate, the ‘Caymankind’ of the Natives or that myth that mad king George had forbid any taxes to be placed on the Islands.

      The Cayman Islands Government back then didn’t create it, if it happened now I still dont think they could move with enough urgency to capture the business and it was certainly never created by the Caymanian People.

      I will conceded however, that the people here have done very well out of it all, some have watched, worked alongside and created their own business models which have become succesfull.

      Look back in history, learn from it, when the banks start to move, it is time to start following!

    • Back in the 80’s, the Cayman Islands had the highest amount of facsimile machines than anywhere else in the world. I suppose the Legislative Assembly invented and constructed all of those too?

  6. Paranoid Driftwood War Monger says:

    Cannot believe the comments I am seeing here. I see expats. I see expats with Mega-Salaries trying to cover their arses!! Help us ALL!! It is over we are done!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I will do it if the right honorable members to post all of their financial transactions, relationships and holdings. Mandatory cancer registry, mandatory census. Big brother is getting too big for their britches.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The only documents that should be made public are those of the public entities. So perhaps the government would give up their business plans? The government already pry too much into private business concerns and staffing decisions. Let this one loose and see how quickly business will fly – to another jurisdiction.

    Seriously the way Cayman runs its affairs is a joke. Get with the times you old dinosaurs!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t the unemployed just take on of the many available jobs and stop their moaning?

  10. Paranoid Driftwood War Monger says:

    Whatever Ezzard said is NOT my FAULT! No really it isn’t!

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Ever more employer infractions of the labour law”? What’s this based on?

  12. Anonymous says:

    So Ezzard says “if expat jobs are not coming from caymanians, who are they coming from?” Is this man for real? Thank goodness the maths are so simple even someone with the economic understanding of Neanderthal man could understand them. If there are 20,000 permit holders and only 2,000 unemployed caymanians, at least 18,000 jobs are definitely not displacing caymanians! They are coming from other countries, you buffoon.

    But I promise you they will go back there again if you try to make BSPs or personal remuneration details public or start randomly culling permits in the vain hope the jobs will remain here and magically be filled with Caymanians that all the evidence suggests don’t want to work.

  13. B. N. Onneste says:

    The statement, ““Arguments that work permits generate more jobs for local people are flawed” says it all. How can a country with 54,000 people (and about half of them are women and children) have 22,000 work permits for foreigners?

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, “half of them are women and children”? What does that mean? Are you suggesting women are not workers!? Your argument should be that of the 54,000 obviously some are above or below working age and some of working age cannot work due to medical problems, which leaves a figure to be determined that are the “working population”. Of that “working age” population a number, yet to be properly defined, are at present unemployed.

    • Ilene phipps says:

      What do women and children numbers have to do with these statistics? Of course children are not working, but Caymanian women have always worked and are doing so now in large numbers!

  14. Sandboy says:

    Is it me, or is there a miscalculation in Ezzards case? Surely from a total population of 60k, and with a censored Caymanian population of 30k+, surely all 30k cannot be held up as a total workforce. If one allows for the young, the old, the sick, the lame and the inevitable lazy surely that would leave a workforce nearer 10k. Therefore, even if Ezzards figures are correct at 10% of the workforce being unemployed, then that would equate to 1k at worst. But even that’s unlikely, given the lack of wefare statistics to back it up.
    It is far more likely that once the unemployable and those looking for new employment whilst still employed are taken from the equation, then the real numbers genuinely out of work are significantly lower.
    Of course this numbers issue could be solved within 24 hours if it became compulsory for all those without employment, of any kind, to register with a government employment agency. But that won’t happen because it is far easier for Ezzard and his dead head followers, including the member for East End, to grandstand at the expense of hardworking expats and their employers.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard has his own political views from the dinosaur era. His goal is to micromanage business in the country. This recent confusion certainly belongs in the top 10 worst Ezzard ideas.

  16. Banner says:

    I have heard some dumb ideas and read some stup.d articles but this one takes the cake. It utterly lacks any economic logic or any respect for private business. Taking on the Big 4 and others is a truely fool hardy errand. Banks are downsizing and shutting down. Does he really think stressing these institutions will help Cayman or Caymanians? It will only end badly for the Cayman Islands. Lucky Ezzard only represents the smallest district and hopefully this rhetoric only appeals to the lowest common denomitor. I hope this isn’t infectious.

    The more bureaucracy that is spun into all this the worse everything has become. It is time for a light touch. Roll back business fees and permit fees and let the market forces take over. Fact is government does not produce anything. Politicans don’t produce anything.They pass regulations and spin vote getting words to get elected. Bureaucrats that administer the various failing departments while using our tax dollars.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The business staffing plan is a joke. I worked for an employer who owned several small businesses and shared staff between them to keep the official total in any one of them under the limit for a BSP. This was repeatedly reported to immigration who ignored it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see how many international firms relocate to the Cayman Islands to provide jobs and economic growth when they find out that their private business decisions and staffing plans are to be made public and shared with their competition. Ya. Great idea. Get your waving arm in shape so that you can wave goodbye to all the businesses as they relocate to greener pastures.

  19. Anonymous says:

    As the government is the biggest employer, let them lead the example, let’s start with what each MLA actually earns including their government pension and credit card expenses. Seems they are the only ones here not suffering from wage depression, as they get more than their counterparts in countries with millions of people.

  20. Anonymous says:

    It’s a tough thing when the facts don’t fit your political agenda. Have to go to plan B–they must be lyin’.

  21. Anonymous says:

    What an awful idea.

  22. JTB says:

    It does sometimes seem that Ezzard gets a surprisingly easy ride on this website, and his frankly bonkers suggestions are written up as if they are somehow feasible or bear any relation to reality.

    So now he is suggesting that a worker who has incurred all the cost and upheaval of relocating to the Cayman Islands, having been given a work permit with a promise of employment for a specified period of time, should be deported because a new local candidate for their job pops up? Who’s going to pay the compensation that the Courts would inevitably award?

    Does Ezzard have any understanding at all of the rule of law, contracts, human rights? Those things which a serious law-maker ought to be very aware of? Or is he just a rabble-rousing grand-stander who knows he can get away with saying whatever he likes because the media will give him a free ride and he’ll never be in a position to implement what he preaches?

    Either way, this kind of bigoted rhetoric coming from an elected member of the legislature does Cayman’s reputation no favours.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ezzard understands the rule of law very well. An Expatriate’s right to work and live in the Cayman Islands is subject to immigration permissions. Immigration permissions are available only to those in full compliance with the law, and at the discretion of the authorities. Those who are not in full compliance with the law, and their employers, are entitled to nothing.

      To think, people like you accuse Caymanians of having an entitlement mentality. Sometimes that label is deserved, but you also prove it is deserved by increasing numbers of expatriates.

      • JTB says:

        Dear Anonymous – Ezzard is saying a work permit should be revoked and the expat deported not because of any non-compliance with the law, but because a Caymanian candidate applies after the fact.

        You would not hear a peep from me about an illegally obtained permit being revoked, but that is not what Ezzard is talking about. He is talking about someone being deported when they have done nothing wrong, and played by the rules.

        By the way, what makes you assume I’m an expat? And where did I talk about anyone’s entitlement mentality?

        • Anonymous says:

          Dear JTB, a work permit obtained when there is a suitably qualified Caymanian to do the job is by definition an illegally obtained work permit. And when a permit is issued based on there being no Caymanians available when actually there are Caymanians available is by no extent playing by the rules. That’s the problem the rules can’t be made up as we go along they need to be followed.

          • Sandboy says:

            So the reality is, (according to your reliance on the rules) that expats are the victims of an incompetent and corrupt system that actively allows Caymanians to employ work permit staff illegally. Good, so we moved that elephant from the room and have identified the real culprits.
            And, who made up those crooked rules and implemented them in the first place, oh yes, the same incompetents that cannot work out that a local workforce of 10k+ cannot cover 20k work permit places plus their own labour market.
            You seem to be blind to the fact that this is your system, invented by your MLA’s and taken advantage of by your employers.
            So let’s drag all those crooked Caymanian bosses into court and sort this out once and for all, let’s put the lie to rest that this is all somehow the fault of those hated expat workers and not of your own people.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lets get this straight. It is you the Caymanian people who are increasing the number if expats here.

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