Opposition calls for action as NiCE attracts 100s

| 14/08/2018 | 84 Comments

(CNS): With hundreds of people turning up to register for the government’s National Community Enhancement (NiCE) on Monday, the opposition urged government to take action to help the unemployed. In a statement to the media, Deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo, the spokesperson for labour issues, said the turnout was a symbol of the failure by the current administration to implement effective solutions to address local unemployment. “The number of people turning up for the now twice-yearly NiCE jobs programme does not seem to be declining,” he noted. 

Cayman News Service

People who turned up to register for the summer clean-up

Government has not yet confirmed how many people turned up for the registration but those who attended estimate the figure was between 500 and 600. This is the first time that government is running the island-wide clean up programme in the summer, as it is usually confined to a seasonal spruce up for the islands around Christmas and New Year.

The additional two weeks of work appear to be government’s attempt to give something to the hundreds of unemployed locals who do not seem to be benefitting from the economic growth that government has been bragging about over the last year.

Suckoo said the clean-up was a band-aid solution that may be appreciated by the people at the time but does very little to help with long-term employment.

“What I want to see is a needs driven approach to providing technical and vocational training at the levels required to equip Caymanians to gain employment and to remain employable,” Suckoo said. “Much more effort is needed to identify and assist those who need the training and skills to equip them to take advantage of available jobs on a permanent basis.” He added that the country could not continue “throwing cash at the problem and hoping it will go away”.

Despite government’s claims that the economy is booming, with development on the rise and a hefty surplus in its coffers, the opposition member said he was alarmed that the social and economic conditions of the average Caymanian have not improved.

“The ever-increasing cost of living and the growing appetite for cheap labour have pushed many Caymanian families into poverty,” he warned.

Suckoo repeated his previous calls to switch priority from academic scholarships to technical training, given the inadequate education budget. He suggested that government determine the areas of highest demand for work permits requiring skilled labour, and offer technical scholarships for Caymanians who could be prepared to take those jobs.

“I have seen private companies, such as Superior Auto, making significant inroads in one area, but government needs to exceed this effort and ensure that those Caymanians who are not candidates for academic study can also have the opportunity to continue their education,” he said. “Much more effort is needed to identify and assist those who need training and upgrading of technical and vocational skills.”

Suckoo also warned that employed workers who are not upgrading their skills are also at risk, as he urged more access for the working population to training. “It is a natural evolutionary process at the workplace; the only way to deal with this is through investing in our people,” the shadow labour minister said, as he criticised the government for choosing short-term solutions.

“It is very discouraging to know that over 500 people braved the blazing sun to get a few hundred dollars in their pockets as a short-term measure to take care of their families,” he said, and pointed to the significant number of women who turned up.

Suckoo said government had rejected a proposal by the former MLA Winston Connolly and himself to ring-fence 10% of work permit fees for educating and training Caymanians, which could have helped. Instead, he said, government has neglected the people who are out of work and allowed the continued failure of the Department of  Immigration to monitor Business Staffing Plans’ training and scholarship requirements.

“Were this monitoring and tracking carried out effectively without even spending some of the government surplus on scholarships, we could help so many people with the training they need to become employed and to remain employable,” Suckoo stated. “Government needs to make education and training a priority and to fund it adequately.”

He added, “We are fixated on developing the cruise berthing, airport and other private developments, but if our people are not educated, trained and prepared, the benefits of all this development will go elsewhere.” And he appealed to government “to give Caymanians a fighting chance”.

Meanwhile, the independent member for George Town, Kenneth Bryan, added his concerns about unemployment at a time when government is claiming economic success. Having attended the registration, Bryan agreed that there were at least 500 people at the event, similar to the number at the last clean-up in December. He said it was worrying that in the face of the claimed turn in economic fortunes, the number of people in need of work is not declining.

“We are doing this twice a year now, even with all the boasting from government about the surplus, the economy growing, more construction and things being good for business,” he said, adding that this economic success should have had an impact on the unemployment numbers with more locals being hired.

“One would think that more Caymanians would be hired but it seems the increase in work permits is where the work is going, not to those Caymanians who are unemployed,” Bryan added. He said he wanted to see local people getting some work, so while he welcomed the initiative, “as anything is better than nothing”, he said it should be the private sector that is taking on local workers, not government creating jobs just to try give people some help when the economy is supposed to be so robust.

Bryan also raised his concerns about the minimum wage, pointing to the fact that the CIG is offering CI$10 per hour for the clean-up programme while the national basic pay remains at $6 which he said illustrates the need to review and increase it as soon as possible.

CNS has reached out to government leaders for comment on the opposition criticisms and we are awaiting a response.

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Category: Jobs, Local News, Politics

Comments (84)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Allow the public sector to create new jobs.

    Been out to Health City lately? Everyone not wearing a stethascope is a local. Well done! The required number of skilled people get work permits and the tide lifts everyone. Not to mention all those doctors rent apartments owned by Caymanians, buy cars and gas and food from Caymanian companies.

    Reduce or temporarily eliminate new work permit fees for professionals, allow the financial firms to hire more people and then more support staff will be needed.

    Change the business fees for professional firms so that they can hire more people without increasing their government overhead.

    Eliminate start up imports duties for NEW industries setting up shop here (not for big well connected hotels, tour boats, and coffee shops).

  2. Hate Work Permit Fees says:

    Response to : 14/08/2018 at 11:09 am
    Probably because the Jamaican that owns the company will only hire his brothers and not hire Caymanians? NOT TRUE. I HATE PAYING FOR WORK PERMITS!! I would love to find my local people who are trained with a skill to work in my business. But first they must have (1)THE RIGHT ATTITUDE. (2) TURN UP TO WORK ON TIME (3) TAKE ONE-HOUR LUNCH (4) GIVE ME A FULL DAYS WORK FOR 5 1/2 DAYS. (5) SICK ONLY 10 DAYS FOR THE YEAR AND NOT 25 DAYS. (6) TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR WORK (7) KEEP OFF THEIR CELL PHONES.
    Three weeks ago, I offered one of my own people $500 to paint 6 post for me. I am still waiting on him to show up. Something is wrong with some of us and I pray that it will change as it is giving the rest of us a BAD BAD NAME. We have very good Caymanians and we have some of us that behaves as if the world owes us something. Cut the bullshit and get to work.

  3. China says:

    14/08/2018 @6:24 What the hell is ‘lieng’. Are you from China?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Income tax and a welfare state, simple.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So why not make this permanent? First 30 people to show up each day get to work helping to clean up the island.

    • Pay as you Go says:

      I think your on to something! Why not make is a permanent once a month thing. They can do other things that are eco friendly – like plant trees, landscape roads, repel iguanas without having to kill them, clean up junk … there are many beautifying projects as well.

      COME ON MLAs!


  6. Anonymous says:

    Dont give these people jobs, id rather a good old fashioned burglary or robbery…That makes me feel so much better because no one deserves anything right?

  7. POLITRICKS 101 says:

    Cayman has in the last three decades afflicted itself with the same type of Incompetent Politician Syndrome in successive governments that has damaged much of the Caribbean. It feels like they all become what they campaigned against and when convenient they join forces with their political nemesis in order to survive or maintain power at all costs. Principles are secondary to political expediency.

    We used to be different and successful as a country. Now our people are on the brink of third class citizens. Unfortunately, the politicos figured out that voters are more reliable when they have to beg for handouts.

    The Politicos (Elected and Non Elected gods) seem committed to following the blue print of neighboring failed states where corruption is acceptable, crime is out of control and the majority of the population are deliberately kept uneducated and beholden to elected gods and dons the equivalent of business leaders in Cayman.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So these same people can’t flip burgers, cut grass, wash dishes, pump gas, etc etc in the private sector?

    This crowd literally only wants government handouts, not job security through accountability in performance. I have no tolerance for those who refuse to take personal responsibility regarding their quality of life.

    The NiCE programme only reiterates to these people that government handouts is a legitimate means of income and sends that same flawed message to the children of this crowd.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Attention: MLAs

    Here is my suggestion to help all unemployed Caymanians – be willing to take a pay cut so that the stipend given for the ‘clean-up’ can be substantial. What is paid out is a joke and within a week or so, these same people have to be at the NAU or other agencies literally begging again for assistance.

    For this affluent country of ours, no one should have to live the way some persons have to. If these same people are willing to endure the extreme heat, sand flies and mosquitoes and in some cases embarrassment, so as to get a little financial help, would one not agree that they are ready, able and willing to work.

    I do not buy the rubbish that many employers utter so as to justify why they continue to hire a foreigner when it is quite obvious to me by the turn at the Lion Centre there are a significant number of unemployed Caymanians who are out there READY, ABLE and WILLING to work!!

  10. Renegadestar says:

    It made me sad to see so many Caymanians desperate for work. I took note of the many elderly folks in the group that showed up, these are truly desperate times.

  11. Anonymous says:

    …and ‘they’ say we dont want to work. Well, its in our blood, they can even feel it flowing in our every vein. Solid as a rock cayman coral d.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a missed opportunity to serve all those outstanding warrants.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Now isn’t that NiCE!

  14. Anonymous says:

    11,000 jamaicans 3,000 Filipinos.

    • An investor says:

      11000 and 3000 have better work ethics than too many Caymanians and are smart enough to know what is necessary to please people. Your economy thrives on tourism, hospitality, banking and insurance (all driven by expats and and foreigners). When will Caymanians get it??? Too many of you don’t want to work hard enough to promote and maintain your greatest opportunities. You don’t need to give up your cultural but you do need to understand where your future is and what you need to do to serve it. Get a clue and your heads out of your anal passages!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I can tell you one thing, Sharon Roulstone and WORC will not ever find proper jobs for most of these people, no matter how hard she and her team try. Every society has its disgruntled lazy unreliable non functioning citizens and most of these people that were there belong to our “unemployables”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why you always lieng

    • Anonymous says:

      Private sector businesses need to create jobs like this. Show up and put your name on a list. Work when you want, but no more than 2 weeks at a stretch. Get paid 50% more than minimum wage. Simple.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I enlarged the picture from the front of the Compass on my computer and could immediately see why some of these people are unemployed. Many are well known unreliable non workers and drug users. And the Compass quoted some BS from Clayburn about how badly done by he is and how Caymanians are oppressed etc but the interviewer didn’t ask him why he lost his job many years ago at Public Works, despite being given many chances to behave. To spare his blushes I will say no more.

  17. I wonder if anyone created a database of all the people to find out which people had skills and what skills were they? Maybe help those who don’t have a CV to write one ? Lots of things could be done with so many people in one room. That’s what Govt. should do as well, all the leaders and top Caymanian businesses people should go on a retreat and lock themselves in a room and work together to fix all the problems. Diagnose and then Repair!

  18. Anonymous says:

    500 unemployed Caymanians together in 1 spot gives a unique opportunity to quickly find out why they are not working and what they believe needs to be changed. I hope the government uses this opportunity to get some answers!

    • Anonymous says:

      Just see who shows up everyday and works and you’ll know the real number who actually want to hold a steady job. Then take those aside and focus on helping them with the basics – CV, interview skills, job placement.

  19. Ian says:

    Something is not right as I have been unemployed for 3 month and yet I manage to find new job. It is either they are lazy or they expect a job land on their lap.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you have training and skills?
      Most of these persons do not and that is the point MLA Suckoo is making. I am a bit concerned that someone as employable as you cannot see his point though, makes me wonder about you!

  20. Anonymous says:

    No idea how anyone can survive on $7 an hour, and typically on jobs where there is hard manual labor.

  21. Slacker says:

    “CNS has reached out to government leaders for comment on the opposition criticisms and we are awaiting a response.”

    Hope you are not holding your breath, asphyxiation is a terrible way to die.

    • Anonymous says:

      The CIG would love it if all the media would asphyxiate, which means you are doing something right

      Keep it up CNS

  22. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to know how many work hard for full days everyday this goes on. That’s how you will truly find the ones who want work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ohhh thumbs down for this? So those are the problem people who think because you’re from here you deserve whatever job no matter what. Even if you barely show up and can’t complete the basic requirements. That’s what’s really wrong here.

  23. Anonymous says:

    caymanians…you voted them in time after time.. and probably will next election again? you ask for it…now suffer!????

    • The Constitutional Critic says:

      Actually we voted in Independents

      The PPM net lost 2 seats in the election and 3 sitting ministers were unseated overall, a stunning indictment of their leadership that came from the election where the Premier bragged the PPM faced “No real opposition in the election” Keep in mind the PPM got less than half of their Candidates in despite having the most name recognition, spending the most money and having the most seats prior to the election (i.e Incumbency)

      In any other jurisdiction a party leader who entered an election with those advantages and led his side through a bloodbath like the 2017 election was for the PPM would step down upon not being able to form a government because when you lose an election in the Westminister System individual candidates are not blamed, the party leadership is

      This current government is only possible because of Mckeeva’s refusal to step down
      Despite being forced out of power by way of a no confidence vote Mckeeva tried to remain the leader in 2013 and subsequent to his 2014 acquittal (an acquittal based on a technicality, rather than being completely innocent of the charges) and as we can see now the people are wary to reelect him or his cronies out of fear of another collapse and another Government run by a man who is happy to spend “hours upon hours” in foreign casinos (instead of setting up legal casinos and lotteries here that would benefit Cayman and which he could happily spend his downtime gambling in)
      If he had stepped down the CDP would have probably been able to reorganize and come back to take some of the eastern districts that the PPM pretend don’t exist
      But too often MLAs and Cayman are too greedy to know when to bow out, even to further their own parties and “ideals”
      Because everything in Cayman is about personal gain, very few persons are principled and certain long serving members of the LA are after nothing more than a statue, and a state funeral

      We saw in 2017 2 former UDP/CDP candidates who ran as independets and got in, if the CDP had reorganized under a different leader those two could have been reintegrated could have been the official opposition with a PPM/IND coalition like the one we have now (meaning they would not have to have gone against the last 20 years of them calling the other sides corrupt)

      Also on a side note ( as I digress from my digression) Can someone explain to me why the fuck Mckeeva is still heading the CDP if he has no intention to be in the Cabinet or Premier again as he has claimed
      He might as well give his party the opportunity to separate themselves from his image (its not like his seat is in any danger of flipping CDP affiliation or not) As soon as he steps down or dies the CDP is going to end up collapsing because he refuses to let the party grow on its own under different leader

  24. Bush Cutter says:

    I fail to understand why these same people are not working with the many landscaping businesses if they want to do this kind of job. That would reduce work permits considerably.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or start their own la dscsping business.?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask the Caymanian owners of these landscaping firms and they will tell you…but not on the record for quoting publicly….of all their terrible experiences with locals they employ including skipping off the job, not turning up and using drugs on the job.

  25. Anonymous says:

    How can the government pretend that 6$ is a decent minimum wage (with our high cost of living)

    and then turn around and not pay their own minimum wage for the “NiCE” program

  26. Small company employer says:

    I would be very interested to know how many of these people have taken part in this incentive time after time? Could it just be possible that they are looking for two weeks of easy money? I have witnessed several occasions of one person working whilst 4 or 5 look on during these “clean-ups”. Are these individuals truly unemployed or just unemployable??

  27. Anonymous says:

    unemployed by choice. end of story.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Alva

  29. Anonymous says:

    6.50 an hour, 7.5 x 20 work days is just shy of $1000 a month. How is anyone to survive on that anywhere?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Hew and the unity government should be addressing raising inflation and the costs of living and costs of doing business instead of these types of band aid solutions.

  31. Anonymous says:

    The ppm led government is about band aids not practical solutions. Thanks Mr. Suckoo for your suggestions and speaking the facts. No wonder they were happy to see you leave their party. They are not interested in uplifting Caymanians we cannot trust things Alden Moses Joey say they focus on rich people and dart

    • Anonymous says:

      He had to leave. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and integrity would do the same.

  32. Not NICE says:

    ROFLOL what did I just read? Hew called it an opportunity to learn new skills like painting the medians and picking up rubbish.

    This country is going to the dogs with this type of leadership. They think Caymanians are only good enough to pick up road side garbage in a country with over 24k work permits. Vote him and the rest out!

    • Anonymous says:

      What is the Unity team and Minister Hew doing? Oh wait – planning the port project!

    • Anonymous says:

      They braved the “blazing sun” I am still laughing at that remark…in another article read about the commissioner looking for “people have been resident in the Cayman Islands for 4 years” to apply to become a Police Officer, BECAUSE CAYMANIANS CANNOT BE FOUND….save your BS for someone else

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, Mr Suckoo intended to convey that in signing up for the clean up jobs they would have to “brave the blazing” sun. A little miscommunication there, I think.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I see a room full of abled bodied people who could potentially be plumbers, carpenters, electricians and mechanics… If only our government would do something worthwhile for a change and build a trade school!!

    • Anonymous says:

      They don’t have to build a trade school ,damn it Alden needs to finish the damn school he started since Ivan ,and use the cider building for trade school…..I’ve said this 20 times ,it’s a hell of a big place .

  34. Wake Up Cayman says:

    To some persons caring means vote buying with these short term programs. Why not provide subsidies for kids returning to school for school supplies who may need it?

    A job for 2 weeks is not caring. If the government really cared help Caymanians get jobs and be trained to keep a job for the whole year. That would be a real demonstration of caring. Wake up.

  35. Anonymous says:

    The landscaping crew that does my complex are almost all Jamaican. Why won’t they do this job?

    • say it like it is says:

      8.39am The answer is simple – all these garden maintenance workers (none of them locals) work extremely hard for their money. The government programme pays $10 an hour to lounge around and chat, pretending to work with little or no supervision.

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably because the Jamaican that owns the company will only hire his brothers and not hire Caymanians?

    • Anonymous says:

      You have to show up everyday and take the wage offered. This is easy money and noncommittal.

    • anonymous says:

      Probably because these jobs pay a pittance that is so low that it discourages Caymanians whose monthly bills far exceed income? Jamaicans are sharing beds and sending money home where it holds high value.

      While I personally would try to take what I could get, I can understand people trying to hold out for something better rather than earning wages that are way below what could possibly keep a shelter over their heads and food on the table.

      • Anonymous says:

        So don’t work if you can’t find a job that you’re qualified for that pays well? Horrible advice and that’s why these kids are so lazy!

        • Anonymous says:

          Not quite 5:13 pm: first, we are not speaking about “these kids”. We are speaking about adults like you and me.

          Second, the writer was responding as to why Caymanians won’t opt for the landscaping jobs held by Jamaicans. They won’t take it for the same reason you won’t take it.

          When the landscaping job will pay the rent and put food on the table, people will take it. I am all for the dignity of labor, but don’t let us get carried away with with impractical solutions.

          The fact that people are turning up for the NiCE programme does show, however, that people are not afraid of menial work. They just don’t want it to be a career choice.

          What we need is a re-training/skills programme that will enable people to find their footing and to climb the career ladder from there.

          The attitude of some of people like you remind me of the famous quote attributed to Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake.”

  36. Anonymous says:

    Want unemployment to go down? Reduce the number of permits given out each year or maybe government should actually do their job and make sure Caymanians aren’t being passed over by companies who want “their people” from other branches outside of Cayman filling the positions. Let the trolls start but EVERYONE knows it’s true that this happens.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is not the answer…the problem lies elsewhere and in manual labour I believe it is that people from other territories will work for less than local people. Somehow that needs to be worked out-a wage is still a wage…

  37. Anonymous says:

    All i see here is crack heads and Jamaicans married to Caymanians

  38. Anonymous says:

    This seems more like an indictment of Caymans education system than anything else.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t think for one minute that all unemployed are uneducated. I know many educated persons looking for jobs and getting no offers.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, there are many educated Caymanians that are in work but want to move on, that’s a whole different story, especially if they’re not qualified to do so.

      • Anonymous says:

        One gravely at risk sector of the population are persons who have been retired but have no or inadequate pensions, but are still old enough to work.

        This includes those with the inadequate $1,000 per month Thatch pension plan. Most have saved nothing to supplement this way insufficient monthly income.

        One is cleaning house for a family member. Another is recovering from an illness and trying to get back into the work force.

        Without jobs and adequate pensions, this sector in an aging population is a ticking mental health time bomb as well.

        And they will become a major liability for government.

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