Opposition calls for big boost to seamen’s benefits

| 16/08/2017 | 69 Comments

(CNS): Kenneth Bryan, the new opposition MLA for George Town Central, and his colleague, the deputy opposition leader and member for Newlands, Alva Suckoo, have filed a private member’s motion in the Legislative Assembly calling on the government to increase seamen’s benefits to $1,000 per month. Bryan said that he is concerned that these elderly members of the community, who were instrumental in shaping the country’s modern-day success, are struggling to meet even their basic needs given the current cost of living and, in particular, the costs of healthcare.

Following on from his first motion calling on government to invest in secure housing for the homeless, Bryan is making it clear from his first motions that he intends to be a champion for the vulnerable during his first term serving as an MLA.

Backed by Suckoo, the motion is simple and calls on government to meet what Bryan said is a campaign promise made by several members of the National Unity administration when they were on the campaign trail. Bryan told CNS that he wants to make sure that these campaign promises to help the vulnerable are not forgotten, especially as government is in the process of setting its next budget which is expected to cover a two-year period.

Bryan said that he believes the increase from the current $550 to $1,000 is not unrealistic as trying to survive on an income of less than $1,000 given the cost of living in Cayman is challenging at best. He added he will argue the case for the increase during the debate which he hopes will take place at the upcoming meeting.

Government has not yet confirmed when it will have its first parliamentary meeting as it is understood that the new ministries have taken some time to organise. A tentative date has been set for 21 August for delivery of the Strategic Policy Statement, which will set out this coalition government’s intentions over the coming administration. While Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that he intends to focus on community and social issues during this administration, it remains to be seen what policies on which the Progressives campaigned will be addressed and which ones will be adopted from those put forward during the campaign by the CDP and the two independents on the government benches.

Kenneth Bryan’s private member’s motion on seamen’s benefits

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Comments (69)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Any MLA, particularly Opposition MLAs, who propose increased Govt spending on something, should be required to provide a business case with the proposal which suggests where the funding will come from to support this increased spending.

    If you dont have the sense or the balls to suggest where the funds will be taken from to support your increased spending proposal, you shouldnt be an MLA and you should resign your seat now, so that we can replace you with someone who may have more sense or balls than you.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree that people cannot sustain themselves on less than $1,000 per month here in Cayman. So how does CIG justify having people “retire” after meeting the required minimum of 10 years and at least 55 years of age and their pension is less than Government’s “poor relief” payments of $550 per month?
    Seamen did contribute yes…but so did many others!

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    • Anonymous says:

      You make a valid point (11.26 am post) some seaman went to sea for decades, some only for a year or two, why should their contribution be worthy of more compensation than others who made their contribution to Cayman. Not only the low-paid civil servants whose pensions are so small, but what about the fishermen, farmers and the housewives and others who also helped Cayman to be what it is today. Why only seamen, why, why! Come on my Representatives! Do the right thing.

      • Anonymous says:

        6:13 pm, The Farmers, Fishermen would not been able to sell their goods if it was NOT no Seamen money coming into these Islands, for that was the only money circulating in these Island those days.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Your are absolutely righ. Poor relief is paying better than those who really worked hard to help make this country. And the story has started to unfold yet, just wait until the permanent resident grant is completed. But that’s how warped up the government is they pay lazy ass people to stay lazy

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not only true that some who are, or who were, getting the benefit never ever went to sea, but there are some doubts about the government pension for common labour or other work done years ago. Some claim for work done before they were old enough to go to sea (so they get both grants) and we know most boys went to sea before the qualifying age for pension, which is 18.

      This is a well meaning gesture by the MLA but it opens another can of worms. Seamen are not the only people who deserve help. For example the men who sweated in the sun to construct the banks and other buildings you claim could not have been built without the money sent home by the seamen, and the ladies who worked in hotels, banks and offices for decades and are now in need because they have no pension.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If some of you idiots would shut to hell up and get up and do something for the country as those seamen did you would serve more purpose. But because you don’t know what you’re talking about you just advertise freely for Colgate tooth paste company. If the seaman, who are seaman, were really looked after then some of you lazy ass people wouldn’t get enough to eat day after day. But because they take it from the well deserved seaman, who are really seaman and give to every tom dick and harry the real seaman is neglected and frankly how many of them are really alive. So stop looking like a fool and let the government do their job and that is taking care of the few seaman that are left. A lot is claimgand they only made one trip to sea others went for 40 years.

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    • Anonymous says:

      KYD$9mln a year is what we pay in additional support for alumni of this particular obsolete profession. That’s already a generous extra pile of political backsheesh bobo, and we’ve been doing this a long time. How many living alumni are there? In 2017, that number must be getting smaller, not growing!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Its utter nonsense that we are being forced to pay for this with no end in sight!

    While the original need may have been justified this never ending handout to a special interest group needs to be done away with at some point.

    When is the government going to put in place a sunset date for this programme? Has the government actually done any research to determine what the formative years when seamen’s contributions were vital to Cayman actually were? How many Seamen from those years are still alive?

    The vetting process for this programme has more holes than the dingy on the back of a 1930’s schooner. Some of these Seamen collecting these payments were at sea for less than 1 year! Yet they are entitled to benefits for life! Then their spouses after they pass away.

    If I go to work on a cruise ship now until January 2018 can I get benefits for life too? How would that look after I return get another job and still ask the government to pay me every month for the rest of my life?

    This handout policy is being bundled as Seaman’s and Veteran’s Benefits to make the public swallow it as we consider the contribution of our brave Veterans. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the number of veterans compared to the number of seamen.

    What about all the other Caymanians that went overseas to work and sent money home in the past? Those in construction, office jobs, etc. None of them receive such benefits from CI Government and rightly so.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    SAD!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    MLA Kenneth, where do you proposed Govt gets the funds from to support this increase?

    I would love some more money too but it doesnt just fall out of the sky, I have to cut back my expense on something or raise my fees on something else.

    Where do you propose we cut spending? Or where should we increase fees to pay for this additional forever expense?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth and others are acting like the Seaman where a Military Force. Some of these Seaman are the wealthiest Caymanians around and is Kenneth suggesting that the rest of these guys were so Dumb they couldn’t plan for retirement ? STUPID, just another way to rob CIG. if The Seaman where so resourceful and then they are doing well above the poverty line now. FOCUS ON YOU CHILDRENS EDUCATION CAYMAN!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Wide open to corruption, you need no proof you were working on ships, just a signed statement from a few chums.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth. Why not just enforce the maintenance law?

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  10. Anonymous says:

    They deserve nothing. They left the island and sent money back to support their families. That was their duty. Why should the government pay for them doing their duties. All these seamen had multiple children and, by now, must have grand and great-grandchildren. Why don’t their direct and extended families, many who should now be reaping the benefits of this country support them.

    But no. Make government do it. Typical Caymanian mentality. Expect government to do everything and then at the same time complain when government has to collect to pay for these entitlements.

    And please stop this crap about seamen built Cayman. Years of going to sea barely advanced this country from the early 1900s to the early 60s. It was a Jamaican refugee called Vassell Johnson and some English men like David Walker who started the financial industry that caused this island to develop rapidly. It was not sea earnings so please stop that stupid feel-good myth.

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    • Anonymous says:

      7:10 pm, you don’t know what you are talking about, Seamen did build the found foundation for this Country, Ask people like Mr. Benson Ebanks, whom was Barklays bank manager and he will tell you that the Seamen money that they sent home kept these Islands Government and its people going. If you don’t know anything thing about this then get the facts or keep you mouth shut.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It was Bill Walker and Jim Macdonald, both Canadian lawyers. Vessel Johnson was a book keeper who came to work as a civil servant.
      Bahamas going independent actually caused the shift of the Banking industry to Cayman, a British Crown Colony by choice. Thank you Mr. Pindling.

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    • Anonymous says:

      7:10 pm, You should be ashamed of yourself talking bad about the Seamen, they did help build this Country, their money that they sent home played a big part in building this country when it was nothing else going on here.They should get a raise of pay. Why you are NOT talking about the $65,000 (sixty five thousand) the Government are spending on EACH Criminal in Northward Prison each year. They are the ones you should be concerned about, they are tearing down this Country, but you are saying nothing about that, They are the ones costing us tax payers a lot, lot more than the Seamen. The criminals are the ones that the cost of living is so high, by having to employ all of the security officers in the Stores, Banks, Airport etc,etc, it makes everyone wonder what going on in this Country.Sad, very sad indeed.

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    • Sharkey says:

      You need to learn more about the history of the Islands and these men we call Seamen . Until then be quiet because you knows very little about what you’re talking about .
      All the Seamen deserves to be getting better pensions than they are getting , but not the spouses that married them on their last days .

      Some of these Men stopped going to sea to start building the Islands , and Cayman Islands Government didn’t pay like how it’s paying today. But these Men like my Father who worked in the Government for 16’years making very little money , then had to make decisions to better his own future .

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    • Anonymous says:

      *Bill Walker

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is why he won over stingy Marco.
      Kenneth tries to help the people. Marco tried to take money away from the people including civil servants.

      Kenneth just by filing the motion you have won.

      Personally I think the motion is crazy. But the people who don’t read CNS but who vote will take it’s genius.

      Will the Premier follow the failed Marco strategy or will he wake up and try and help the average Caymanian.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You drank bad coffee this morning? What a cold, heartless statement. You must be a miserable person.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    I think a generalized approach to a welfare program would be better. Whether it be temporary housing or money, give a certain percentage of a total, fixed amount based on the needs of an individual person/family.

    Run people through tests to see if they qualify and if not, kick them off the program.

    Give them a certain amount of time to find means of their own (with extensions for special circumstances obviously)

    Old or disabled people will be a separate category as they can’t fend for themself

    The reason why we have such a problem is because the government is handing out money to able bodied people who simply lack the ambition to do better for themselves.

    As mentioned in other comments some of these seamen came back and made a fortune so why should they be entitled to this when there are people who are genuinely on hard times that could use it?

    I can agree with giving them some kind of special consideration for their services, but this idea just seems unnecessarily biased.

    Everyone falls on hard times, it’s only desperate or lazy people who will take a hand out. Differentiate between the two and act accordingly.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    This is downright unfair seafarers and pensioners alike have bills to pay , both have made contribution to the Islands. I myself worked three gov’t departments all I received is $400 a month I still have to depend on family and friends for help as this is not enough . So when Bryan and his counterparts bring seafarers motion to the house remember there are suffering pensioners who would do well with an increase. However I will hold my breath as I cant phathom where the money will be coming from to facilitate this so called stipend increase. Once again how unfair and unbalanced it would be seafarers stipend to increase to $1000 and poor suffering pensioners receiving a measingly $200 /$400 per month please have a heart and put everybody across the board.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if Kenneth will bring anything to the table that isn’t handouts and vote buying? Someone wake me up if that happens. zzzzzzzz

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  14. Anonymous says:

    the usual wonderland nonsense….
    all social welfare payments, should be means tested. end of story.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Someone doesn’t have the experience to have a job…… How could CIG make the school system better, similar to the private schools all MLA’s children attend, if Seaman’s Benefit payments are increased? As well 1975 was 42 years ago….most all seaman would be well above 70 years old and have had many years to scratch out a retirement plan. Were not these Seaman working for money to build homes for them selves and save for the future? SCAM! Does the Seaman Benefit count include operators of single engine canoes run to and from Jamaica? Why do the people responsible for “Cayman’s Modern Day Success” get $6000.00 a year in hand outs and crime dodging MLA’s get $125,000.00 are year…plus BENEFITS?

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    • Anonymous says:

      the problem in your analysis is that for the seamen, etc., of that generation the ‘social contract’ was that your family takes care of you when you get old (and that you die young). The social contract has changed and people are living longer with no (reduced, insufficient, etc.) familial support. The social contract is now (rightly or wrongly) that society as a whole looks after the individuals when they cannot look after themselves. (Hence requiring pension of all current workers, to reduce the future Govt. cost for all persons.) – This is not to say that the Motion itself is good, just that you shouldn’t blame people for being caught out by a shifting world.

  16. Anonymous says:

    How are the seamen more important than the farmers or whoever? How did they get this special deal. Shouldn’t they be in the same boat with everyone else?

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    • Anonymous says:

      2;05pm, years ago the govt. did not have any money, it was no off shore banks, tourists etc., the seamen went to work on foreign flag ships and they sent their wages (money) home,, and that money kept the Government, going from the duties from the seamen bought land, built houses, started business, etc. that also provided the men that stayed home with work for carpenters.masons, electricians/plumbers.and farmers etc. Even the waiver to enter the U.S.A.in your passports was put in place for the Seamen and enjoyed by all until today.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Something is wrong with a system where the supply of seamen seems to keep on growing despite the fact that very few men have left here and gone to sea since the early 1970s. Fraud is occurring big time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      1;37, agreed, a lot of men getting the seamen benefits are not seamen and plenty are Johnneys come lately that came here and got status that did not send no money when or if they went to sea (some did not even go to sea) also some are marrying young foreign women that geting it. The Government needs to go by the rules for the Seamen and stop those people from getting the benefits. All Seamen should have ships discharges and if they don’t, then should have six (6) seamen sign saying that they sailed to sea with them, and immigeration should check when these johnneys come lately got Caymanian Status, for one of the rules says you had to be a seaman for 3 years or more, Caymanian living in the Caymanian Islands and the wife had to be married to the Seaman during the seafaring years. The TRUE SEAMEN deserves to get the seamen benefits all the way. and its time to raise it up to 1,000. 00 PM.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What you talkin about!? I went to sea on Sunday and had a very good time at Rum Point. Now pay me my benefits!

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    • Anonymous says:

      1:37pm ,I went to Sea from March,1965 until January1986. Up until 1980 it was still good lot of men going to sea. I think 1980 would be a fair date to cut off the Seamen benefits.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    How about we cut the “fat cat” salaries, perks, honourable for life titles, royal gong back scratching, and double dip pensioning of our MLAs? Wouldn’t that be nice.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone in Government maintain a list of the number of seamen and their ages? What is the age of the youngest seaman? As they are being paid out of the public purse the public have a right to know for how long payments needs to be made.

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    • Mr Anonymous says:

      You could try making a FOI request

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      • Anonymous says:

        There are as many old sailors living abroad that were a part of the building of the islands than there are living in the island. Shouldnt they be a part of the charitable govt. give away? I think so. Where can I aply?

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  20. Anonymous says:

    What do you intend for the young widows of these elderly ex seamen? Will they be able to take advantage of these extended benefits, even if they are back in their home countries?

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  21. OneVoice says:

    This is all fine, but can government afford this? Yes we have some seamen that can really do with it but there are several there, that really don’t need it, they know who they are. Yes they went to sea and did their time but returned and made a good living for themselves and receives pensions for the shipping company.

    This sounds good but, I do hope that it is well investigated before government goes on another spending spree. Where is the money coming from to pay or what other department will suffer in order for this to happen, or what tax increase can be expected. I say cut MLA’s pay by 40-50% then do it. ):

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    • Anonymous says:

      12:53 pm, you are wrong about the seamen getting pension ,only a very few that got the chance to sail on U.S. flap ships got any pension, all the rest including National Bulk Carriers did not get any pension and the Government did not see to it that they got pension.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Its hard for a Govt. to make sure that people working overseas as non-unoin scabs get pension. They got hired in the first place because their labour was cheaper than the Americans they were replacing. Like working for no pension.

        • Anonymous says:

          Correct 12:38. It was not because they were brilliant seamen as we are constantly being told. They were quite simply the cheapest third world people who would work for poor wages and no pension. Like Vietnamese and other Asians and some South and Central Americans today. It was an economic thing on the shipowners’ part, nothing to do with supposed skills. Capitalism at work.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The government’s biggest spending spree is funding for the prisons which are overcrowded with serious criminals!

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Good move Kenneth!

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  23. #notmyrepresentative says:

    Just say no to handouts!

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  24. Anonymous says:

    I have no problem increasing assistance to men who sent to sea PRIOR to 1975. After that there was alternative employment and their employer would have likely had a pension plan. I am not in favour of providing assistance to seamen after that date. Neither to a young (2nd) spouse who was not involved prior to to that date.
    All assistance MUST have proper rules so that they end when they should.

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    • Anonymous says:

      11:26, the rules now says that the Seamen that worked at sea had to be prior to 1984,to get the benefits, i would agree to it being Prior to 1980, for in the 1980’s thing started to change in these Islands. and the young second wife should NOT get the benefits.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Whenever I read these stories, which are being used as a PR tool, I can’t help see the words “convicted drug supplier jailbird” before every reference to “Kenneth Bryan”.

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  26. Sharkey says:

    18 ya and 1 na , pasted anonymously , but just got to make sure that the right person who you said, receive it . And not given as another hand out to who are not entitled to get it .

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  27. Anon says:

    This is purely political vote buying, people.

    How about these two Opposition MLAs seek a solution to reduce the cost of living here for everyone across the board???? That would be more reasonable than funnelling millions more into this social welfare programme.

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  28. Proud son of a seaman says:

    I agree. Although some may argue it is your own responsibility to plan for the future, a lot of these seamen back in the day wouldn’t have had the funds available to cover both day to day living costs and savings in the long term. Formal and structured pension plans would not have been available like they are today. Whilst I also believe that it is up to the family to look after their elderly family members the sad truth is that not all are willing or able to support them financially. Many were able to invest in property and businesses or continue work in other trades to secure income after retirement age but in today’s economy that still isn’t enough to survive. As Kenneth mentioned, the seaman are an integral part of our history and helped support the Cayman Islands before it became the financial hub/tourist destination it is today so it is deserving that they are in turn looked after.

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    • Anonymous says:

      We’re all descendents of semen

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    • Anonymous says:

      Everyone were “an integral part of our history and helped support the Cayman Islands before it became the financial hub/tourist destination it is today so [is it] deserving that they are in turn looked after”? ??? Therein lies the rub. The seamen get extra consideration while the men who didn’t abandon their wives don’t; would be another way to put it. (Or the wives who weren’t abandoned by their husbands; a third way to look at it.)

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  29. Anonymous says:

    All good what about the pensioners receiving $200 /$400 a month what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. A lot of us are also suffering. I receive only $425 per month seafarer receives $550 per month. Pensioners has made a major contribution to the development of the Islands. So I would urge MLAS to motion for low paying pensioners.

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