Labour and pension boss resigns

| 11/06/2015 | 42 Comments
Cayman News Service

Mario Ebanks

(CNS): Mario Ebanks, the director of the Department of Labour and Pensions, has resigned from his position as well as his role as Acting Superintendent of Pensions. Ebanks told CNS that he had submitted his resignation to the employment ministry in April and had announced his impending departure to the staff at the beginning of this month. Ebanks’ resignation comes more than three years after he took the job comes and at a time when government has a long list of vacancies for senior and critical roles.

Succession planning in many government departments has featured heavily in the recent Finance Committee hearings, with jobs such as the fire chief and the customs collector proving exceptionally difficult for government to fill. As a result, the departure of Ebanks will prove another challenge for government.

Ebanks took over when the old Labour Enforcement Unit of the Department of Employment Services was merged with the National Pensions Office and the jobs unit hived off to create the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) under the UDP government, when Rolston Anglin was labour minister. Since then, Ebanks has made no secret of the fact that the merger was not properly planned, which has presented many challenges for the department.

Ebanks told CNS that the department, despite being significantly under resourced, has nevertheless made significant strides and, as a result of hard work, the staff had achieved much, though a lot remained to be done. He said that many of the problems faced by both departments were legacy issues from the merger in the absence of an integration plan, as well as historical problems that had been neglected for years, plus a lack of resources.

Having held the acting post of superintendent of pensions for almost the entire time he was meant to be the labour boss only, and with no deputy pension chief, Ebanks has been dealing with two of the most criticized government offices with a relatively small staff.

However, despite facing many challenges, Ebanks said his time in the job had “been a roller coaster ride and I have enjoyed it immensely”, but it was now time for him to move. He said he had documented many of the problems and challenges he believes the department faces and how they could be addresses, which was submitted to the ministry some time ago. He said he hoped that they would recognize the needs and the resources that are required to address labour enforcement going forward as well as the implementation of a new pension law.

Ebanks ,who will be leaving in a few weeks, confirmed that he has not had any formal acknowledgement from the ministry over his concerns or who will be taking over when he goes on 30 June.

CNS has contacted the acting chief officer in the ministry, Christen Suckoo, about the succession planning for the job and future plans to address the many challenges faced by the department, and we are awaiting a response.

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Category: Government oversight, Jobs, Local News, Politics

Comments (42)

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  1. MEE says:

    “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep” Frost.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to Mario on ensuring that the many locally-owned businesses that abused staff by not complying with the pensions law were promptly bought to justice and made to pay reparations in full, together with suitably deterrent fines and that the practice of breaching the basic obligations of businesses to its staff has now come to an end. Cough. Cough.

  3. Nominate Austin says:

    Austin should apply for the job. With his journalism background, charisma, knowledge, skill set, stamina, determination, leadership qualities, time management, strategy and good looks, he should be able to solve all the problems at Labour and Pension. Bobo, this is the job waiting for you. Much better than the radio.

  4. Former Civil Servant says:

    All the best Mario. You have made some good contributions to the department and CIG in your short tenure. You remind me of Mr. Dale Banks- a man of valor and integrity. The Ministry should hang its head in shame that they have failed miserably to provide the support needed; but as a former Civil Servant I am sure that a friend of someone in the Ministry has been identified to be a replacement. I just hope to the good Lord above that it’s no one that was involved in the very large case that was thrown out a few weeks ago, and another that was dismissed late last year that will be bestowed with the honor.

    Mario, as I have said, you have done some good work. From cleaning up the pensions mess/fiasco to providing training, the CIG is or should be indebted to you. On the subject of training, I am not inferring that no training wasn’t done prior to Mario days cause I know different, as I am aware of the many safety classes conducted by Dean Hydes. But Mario opened up another entire avenue of training on the Labour and Pensions Laws that had never been done before.

    This is but yet another sad story of a CAYMANIAN not being supported by the higher ups and is totally unacceptable. Tara As Minister, can you explain the circumstances as the country isn’t too happy that your ACO has not even had the decency to reply.

    God bless you Mario wherever life takes you after June 30. Your work has been appreciated.

  5. Barb Anley says:

    Wishing Mr Ebanks the very best in his future endeavors.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I believe that when on works for CIG, no matter how much you try to do your job well, if it means that you are potentially offending some voter, family members, friends of higher up civil servants by enforcing the regulations, laws or processes, Government/Ministry will not back you. So essentially one just goes through the motions but actually never sees any results. For example, if Government is well aware of those businesses who are not following the pension laws, why are those businesses license renewals not pending on all outstanding pensions issues having been resolved? Are we certain that Government itself is not still conducting business with companies who continue to break the labor law??? Can’t blame him for leaving. There is just so many times one can slam their head against the brick wall.

  7. Sharkey says:

    I think this is very strange that the politicians would complain about caymanians like they do, but when they get good caymanian that can and will do the jobs, they loose them to the private sector. Mr Ebanks didn’t say he was retiring , he is resigning from Government.

  8. Anonymous says:

    What Mr. Ebanks needs to tell people now is that he is going to be working at CIAA as the HR Manager

    • Anonymous says:

      Ever thought it was because the CIAA might value his contributions as an HR professional to that entity, unlike the Ministry who has slammed the door in his face.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I like Mario, he’s a good guy

  10. Anonymous says:

    Billy Adam should take on his role at pensions, he knows the pension law better than most that will replace Mario

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why is the answer always more staff? Also could someone please explain to me why in Cayman the problem always lies outside of ourselves? No doubt there are problems that you can do nothing about but how about some self reflection and ask yourself the question “what might I have done differently that would have had a better outcome”.

  12. Michel says:

    I want to wish you all the best Mario in your future challenge. I know how hard you worked and was given a very challenging task and then some. To those of you who chose to critize Mario, you do not know him very well. Apart from being a scholar and a gentlemen, a caring person and hard worker, good husband not many of you could fill is shoes. But if the cap fits try wearing it. My friend many other doors shall open. God Bless. Michel Lemay

  13. Sharkey says:

    This has been a big problem with government for a long time, for the different departments of government to function properly . I was a member of the marine conservation board for many years, found that about 90% of what we recommend was condemned when it reached the law makers . Government should not create these different departments if they’re not going to allow them to function as planned for.

  14. Anonymous says:

    He’s not the only senior civil servant leaving at the end of June, you have another high level person going then too and that will be a major loss to Government . The Civil Service seems to be losing some significant talents, I wonder what Franz intends to do to turn things around. All that will be left are the ones that can’t go anywhere else because they cannot survive in the Private Sector.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your comment about all that will be left are the ones who can’t survive in the private sector is an insult to all the hard-working civil servants who chose not to chase money and instead saw what they could do for their island not what the government could do for them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well said, 6:39 but such comments are not welcomed by CNS or the Compass…..one of the areas the two media outlets agree on: the civil service is crap, no argument allowed.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is actually a huge case of social employment in the Civil Service, reviews of agencies like PWD revealed this, however, the Government refused to do anything about it as the argument was always “if we got rid of them, they would simply show up at social services”.

        There are indeed many cases where the Civil Servant isn’t there for love of country, they simply can no better do. Even if they were able to secure employment in the private sector, chances are, they would not be able to secure the same level of salary or benefits. Those who are able to compete effectively are the ones who seem to be leaving, not just for the almighty dollar, but to work for an employer and in a system that recognizes and rewards performance and not just frustrate individuals trying to do a good job.

        Upper management in the Civil Service simply panders to the crowd, they are afraid to hold people accountable and they fail to back their line managers when they seek to do same. The entire framework is crumbling, but hey, let’s run another marathon, not like we need to do any real management or anything.

    • Bobby Jo says:

      Denny Ebanks who manages Pedro St. James (barely) is also retiring. Such a sad day.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. Like 80% of those who will remain at DLP after Mario has exited stage left. This CIG department called DLP is hopeless….case in point- you go in to ask a question, your told to complete a form and wait for a call in 24 hours and someone will call you. Guess what, don’t expect any call in 24 hours, probably not even in 48 Hours. Whoever runs/oversees this aspect of DLP is a prime example of them not being able to survive in the private sector. Total incompetence!!!

      But on the other hand, there are many hard working and dedicated Civil Servants who do a good and sometimes thankless job.

    • anonymous says:

      It is said in management that if one wants to make a change in their department, they must be prepared to undergo a change themselves.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Would it be irony if the head of pensions retired?
    …just saying.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The Director is a tough role but Mr Ebanks came into the job as an experienced manager and HR consultant. He helped to establish the new agency and was its first head. So three years on he hasn’t made enough progress and is pointing fingers? Or he wants to leave but has to blame others first? To his credit he has made many technical improvements and should be congratulated. But on the people management side????!

    It’s a pity Mr Ebanks didn’t acknowledge all the extra staff he received , both part time and full time, during his tenure and other support. It is easier to point fingers. In fact most of his current staff were selected by him. Did he make bad choices?

  17. anon says:

    congrats to Mario on whatever new position he is moving to. i think the article fairly states the difficulties in resources the national pensions office has been dealing with. Did you know that for every pension account in cayman that the govt charges an annual fee of $20 per account? by a rough reconing from the available financial statements of pension providers there are aprox 50,000 pension accounts in cayman pulling in $1m dollars for govt annually. these funds are not earmarked for oversight of our pension plans, but rather go into the general use govt slush fund. I think it is high time that the govt use our pension fees to provide skilled oversight of private pensions, which many of us will rely on for at least some of our income in retirement. it is also about time that the govt take the 2007 Mercer report (which we paid for) seriously and either expand social welfare or require our citizens to increase their contributions to their pension plans so that they can have some standard of living in their retirement.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Some Caymanians just cannot stick at a job through thick and thin. They think because they are Caymanians everything will go hunky dory but in life that does not happen. Mario is bright but he does not have “stickability”. Sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is such a discriminatory statement to make. His ability to perform has nothing to do with the amount of time he has spent in any position. But why do you have to discriminate and “Lump” all Caymanians into one pot. That’s the problem…people like you who love to stereotype and profile Caymanians as either lazy, or whatever else. It’s people like YOU why Caymanians have difficulty staying in their jobs.

  19. Anonymous says:

    He is not much of a “stayer” in Government. This is at least his second resignation.

    • Anonymous says:

      So you’re supposed to be a ‘stayer’ in CIG? Keeping that seat warm and just waiting on pension? And at his age having to resign twice from CIG should not be a negative.

      When there are other opportunities sometimes it’s worth it, especially if you don’t have Ministers and Chief Officers who may not be willing to lead (although that was not stated here in Mario’s case, heard it is frustrating for some).

  20. Anonymous says:

    Forget Ezzard’s stupid nonsense about the hordes of brilliant Caymanians waiting in the wings but being denied jobs. There just is not enough Caymanian talent at the top end of the Civil Service. Franz knows it, Alden knows it, we all know it. And at the same time, the young Caymanians they take in at entry level with graduate degrees who perform well, they tell them there is no way they can get more money because of the salary freeze/government policy blah blah. They have to wait for promoted posts to come up-which does not happen because everyone is holding on to their job So they look to the private sector and leave.

    • "A concern native/local" says:

      Dear Mr. Ebanks, thank you so much for the significant contributions you have made that assisted many locals including me. If there has ever been a time that we are in need to support the small number of locals remaining on this planet. Those of us whom are not dying from Cancer, heart failures, car accidents especially hit and runs are just simply having too much stress rammed down our throats. If we are not being bullied by our own we are being strategically bullied by the expats who is looking to do just that push us under pressure with hopes of us succumbing so that they can have another job, that most times automatically goes with the house, the car, the land etc. However, that can’t last forever because they may some day just go down the fighting side of the wrong and short fused local that just EXPLOED and then the people will become wiser and approach with caution.

      As the saying goes ” the last Native/Local Caymanian Leaving is to bring the flag with them” but don’t wait on it because I am NOT leaving. Either Back off or be willing to work with us.

      Mario Thanks again and I am hoping that you can re-consider your resignation at this stage because we NATIVE especially NEED you there for us all. You are a man that has integrity and not one that would sell your soul and the rest of ours for small favours.

      May/our major additional concerns right now is who could be the very -very – very -very not so right person that may sweet there way right in to be the next Collector of H.M. Customs that we can be sold out very cheap. That Department need to have a person that is God fearing, compassionate, trust worthy, HIGH integrity and highly values the islands’ people and locals alike.

      May our LORD continue to bless you and the rest of yours.

      • Anonymous says:

        With views like that you really do need help! I will pray for you.

        • Anonymous says:

          When a Caymanian, and quite honestly speaking, a GENERATIONAL Caymanian; makes a comment such as the one to whom you responded; there’s always a negativ response.
          Yes we do notice!
          I dare say the reason is because TRUTH HURTS!
          So yes please pray; that you’ll soon be gone right back from whence you came!
          It is YOU who needs the prayers!
          Don’t respond that “I’m a Caymanian”….you’re not one of mine because some Gov’t gave you a piece of paper……..
          I, as a generational Caymanian, totally understand what the poster was saying.
          Your response made me realize you’re not Caymanian and if you are you surely weren’t raised yah or you’d have understood the post!!
          And I say so because if there was ever a true statement to match your response, its this one by MLA Arden McLean:-
          “You see my glory but you don’t know my story”!
          So, yes, plz pray that we don’t have to endure the likes of you much longer!

          • Anonymous says:

            Wrong, fourth generation and proud of it.

            • Anonymous says:

              my family tree is I married my cousin whom was for my other cousin who was for my fathers half sister whom married her uncles brother unnamed child whom was for his great grandfathers child and that makes me fourth generation caymanian

      • Judean People's Front says:

        CNS – any news on that WTF button?

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow….. so what.

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