Night shifts source of port’s challenges

| 06/01/2020 | 28 Comments
Cayman News Service
Grand Cayman cargo port

(CNS): Changes to and management of the workers’ shift patterns at the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands are having an impact on the operations, which will not be resolved by a bigger dock. Although PACI Acting Director Joseph Woods is insistent that Grand Cayman needs a larger cargo pier, he told CNS that there are challenges surrounding the management of the night shift that are undermining efficiency and proving difficult to resolve.

During the recent Finance Committee hearings, Woods revealed that there had been problems with night shift workers as changes over the years to shift patterns had led to abuse by some workers that had created inefficiencies and inequity of pay, time off and holiday benefits between the staff working during the day and those at night.

Efforts by management to resolve the problems and create a fairer system led to a decline in morale among the night workforce, complaints about the change being unfair, at least one dismissal and a team that is increasingly disgruntled. But Woods insisted that the proposed changes are not unfair and designed to ensure that the port operated efficiently, that workers received fair pay and that the teams would not be constantly taking sick time and leaving the dock short-handed.

“In an ideal world we need to rearrange how the night shift is planned to the satisfaction of workers and that ensure value for money and efficiency in operations,” Woods said, as he admitted that this was a priority for the port to resolve.

He said it was important that staff members were happy with the working conditions, but the pattern that was currently allowing them to abuse the system was no longer viable and had to change, which would require staff and management “meeting somewhere in the middle”.

Woods denied allegations that were raised in the committee hearings in November that the operations manager had made shocking racists remarks about staff. He said that there had been no official complaints recorded accusing any managers of discrimination.

Woods said that one person was fired for gross misconduct after attempting to organise a work stoppage and using the authority’s own equipment in a dangerous manner to block work on the dock. This had stemmed from the complaints about the loss of what the night shift saw as a change to less favourable working conditions after Woods attempted to close the gaps caused by shift patterns. He said there was no evidence that the staff member had been racially abused and that the issues all revolved around the shift patterns.

CNS understands that the port authority’s board is also involved and some members have taken sides with the disgruntled workers while others are keen to see the director solve the shift pattern problem.

Woods would not comment on any dispute among board members but confirmed there were disagreements about the best way to resolve the problems. CNS understands that some board members had called and held separate meetings from the usual scheduled monthly meetings about these staffing issues, which appears to have created more challenges for management in its approach to the project.

Woods, who has been acting in post for 18 months, did not apply for the vacant post and government has not yet announced the outcome of recent interviews. Other management problems involved the chief financial officer, who has been on extended sick leave for many months and his retirement will be announced in the coming months.

The problems in the management team, the board disagreements and the disgruntled night-workers come at a time when the port is at the centre of the government’s proposal to develop cruise berthing facilities, as the authority would retain control of the new facility if it was given the green light following a rescheduled referendum later this year.

PACI is keen to see the cargo enhanced, as Woods said it is essential to future operations that the port gets a wider pier and is given more space in the dock area for operations. He believes that with the growing population and an increase in imports, it will not be long before the dock will no longer be able to accommodate the cargo coming in.

See Finance Committee hearings on the port authority on CIGTV below starting at 3:06:00

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Category: Government Administration, Politics

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The problem sounds like you aren’t hiring the right kind of workers. Fire the lazy, anti work parasites and maybe gets some real workers in there.
    While your at it maybe get a manager with experience at running anything successfully. I know this will not happen in Cayman as the culture will not allow skill, experience, and work ethic to trump political hiring. As usual you can’t solve the problem without pissing off the voters/workers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Woods said that one person was fired for gross misconduct after attempting to organise a work stoppage”


  3. Anonymous says:

    Now the true problems raises its head…Joey, you should have told the truth instead of being Moses’ lackey…The roosters have come home to roost and watch whose head will be chopped…

  4. Anonymous says:

    So let me see if I get this straight, the PACI wants a bigger port yet they can’t manage the one they currently got? Nowhere else in the world people could make this excuse up and get away with it…SMH. A larger port means more employees, more equipment, more responsibilities and more overhead expenses. How the heck do you expect to pull this one off?

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Woods, who has been acting in post for 18 months, did not apply for the vacant post and government has not yet announced the outcome of recent interviews.” Its not like he asked to be put there so suck it up buttercups.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Fire Joey Woods now!
    He is a yes man for Moses K and ppm. Things have gotten worse since he became acting director. He is not qualified for the position and is a political hire. Things are worse because of his leadership and his deputy. They abuse staff and are horrible managers who do not respect staff.

    The Premier and Deputy Premier will not listen until someone is hurt or killed because of the incompetence of the director and management team.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you should get a life or be fired yourself, As if you can do a better job than him….

      • Anonymous says:

        Woods is making the mistake of trying to bring order to the business as usual culture , he is doing the right thing, but when was the right thing ever popular.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are staff who say quite the opposite of you about Joey. But tell me, weren’t you all saying the same thing about Clement? Weren’t you all advocating for him to be fired too? Is it really something wrong with management, or is it that your demands are unreasonable? Two different bosses and you unhappy with both? I smell a rat.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t putting PACI and management in the same sentence an oxymoron?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Those working the graveyard shift SHOULD be paid more! It’s called “incentive” because not many want to work those hours.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Not all members of all boards ever agree on everything.
    Decisions are made through Majority consensus , and cannot be sensationalized by referring to the process as “board disagreements”.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What he’s really saying is that the night shift workers need a nip more rum and a new lounge…

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is the outcome of too many years of the tail wagging the dog. The night shift should never been paid at ovetime rates.

  12. Anonymous says:

    zzzz…. the usual civil service incompetence.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Laziness and abuse of the system raises it’s monstrous head yet again. A bigger port will not fix these issues. Vote NO to the cruise port and maybe hire some people with actual work ethic? Maybe then we wont have containers floating in Hog sty bay?

  14. Hafoo says:

    Its better to get rid of one(The head)than the whole crew…when the TEAM is not performing,usually the coach gets fired…

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. How many on-shift criminal arrests were registered in the last year?!? Do our politicians and ministers intend to maintain / increase those criminal flows, in what should be, a vetted high security area? Who does that vetting and what are the criteria for hiring and dismissal? Seems to be pretty loose!

    • Anonymous says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice to see exactly what the current work terms and benefits are for those who are working nights and what they are seeking to have versus those who are working daytime?

  15. Anonymous says:

    The commissioned Port utilization report by Baird pointed out structural failings in concrete pours from Royal Watler expansion (from 2006), and concluded that port was operating well-below capacity. Adding more surface area for new foul-ups and poor workmanship (from the least transparent government ministry), doesn’t solve anything. It certainly doesn’t get us to 50 years of problem-free service life in a deeper bluer structural load scenario.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ah, 12 28pm, wasn’t 2006 about 14 years ago?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, that’s right, Royal Watler was supposed to have a lifespan of more than 14 years. That means, all things in Cayman being equal, a similarly constructed 25+ year cruise pier/port structure might crumble apart or collapse halfway before it’s intended amortization date…and we are left holding the contractual bag on that one (again).

        From 2006:
        “The Port Authority has drawn down US$18 million of a US$27 million bank loan to build the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal. The agreement with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association is that the cruise association will give a dollar per passenger that comes here to pay back the loan over 15 years. Two million passengers per year are needed for the repayment.”



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