Troubles still stewing after turtle farm strike

| 12/04/2021 | 21 Comments
Cayman News Service
Turtle farm staff and former workers discuss the protest with Bernie Bush MP

(CNS): Staff at the Cayman Turtle Centre have a list of grievances that have still not been resolved, even after a significant number of workers walked off the job Friday and carried out a day-long protest. Despite their public declarations about many issues and a workplace that they describe as a “toxic environment”, which were live streamed on social media and reported in the press, the management team has not engaged with the angry employees. Among the points of conflict stewing at the farm are claims of workers being mistreated, unwarranted pay rises for the managers, the manipulation of recruitment and the mismanagement of the accounts.

Staff members who spoke with CNS talked about a poor relationship between management and themselves going back several years, and some described their own personal experiences of bullying, the use of profane language by a very senior manager and general mistreatment, the realignment and reduction of their pay, with conditions becoming even worse since the pandemic.

The workers’ grievances were aggravated when they learned that, while their pay was being cut, the managers were giving themselves additional pay rises. Accusations have also been made by the Public Accounts Committee that the accounts are being mismanaged to make it appear that certain areas of the CTC are making a profit when they are not to enable the top executives to pay themselves additional bonuses.

Staff were angry that they had to learn about the management pay rises through the PAC hearings. They have also raised concerns about how at least one very senior job has been created and the job description manipulated to fit a specific person on a permit rather than enable qualified Caymanians to apply. Although at least two local people who had sufficient qualifications and experience to fit the original job description applied, neither of them were given an interview after the job specifications appears to have been changed to fit someone else.

“We are here letting them know we are tired and they have to go,” one of the protesters told CNS about the senior management. “Without this staff, this facility can’t run. You must take care of them. They know the issues and they know what is going on.”

Several dozen workers stopped work at the CTC on Friday and demanded that the management and board be removed. The demo attracted the attention of several West Bay candidates competing in the upcoming elections, including the incumbent, Bernie Bush, and challenger, Rolston Anglin, for West Bay North where the farm is located. Anglin said that if he is sitting on the government benches by the end of this week, he will ensure that the board and the senior management are removed.

“Until the staffing crisis at the turtle farm is fixed, you can’t address the company. It’s very simple; the CEO has to go, the board has to be accountable and has to go, and the COO has to go,” Anglin said. “In any organisation where leadership looses the confidence of the masses, the answer is simple,” he said, adding that the CTC remains a strategic asset for government, so it must set strategic goals.

Bush, on the other hand, fell short of calling for CEO Tim Adam’s scalp and said that he wanted to see the expat managers removed before kicking out the Caymanian, but he also said that the board had to be replaced and must begin taking control.

Most of the staff agree that the board has failed the employees and the facility and has not been keeping watch over what is happening. One member of staff told CNS that the entire management team should be ashamed of themselves presiding over an institution that loses more than $4 million per year, despite the subsidy it receives.

There are also concerns that the management is manipulating the accounts to make it appear that the butchery and meat supply side, which actually makes a profit, is responsible for the losses, when in actual fact it is the entertainment side of the facility where the cash hemorrhaging.

While management refused to engage with staff throughout the day-long strike, and were unavailable for comment when CNS called into the offices, in a short statement issued by the board on Friday evening the directors said they had received a petition letter from staff through the Ministry of Tourism and were seeking mediation through the government’s Internal Audit Department and their Human Resources expertise.

“This request to the Internal Audit Department was met expeditiously and an investigation has been ongoing over the last six weeks,” the directors stated. “The Internal Auditors have met with all staff members, inclusive of those who spoke on camera at this morning’s peaceful protest. It is the Board’s understanding that the findings and recommendations of this report are imminent. The Board and the Executive Management are unable to make any further comments whilst an investigation is being conducted.”

CNS understands that some staff members have been informally told that a meeting was due to take place with some employees, management and directors at the Government Administration Building Monday evening.

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Category: Jobs, Local News

Comments (21)

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  1. Sea Wood says:

    Seemed like in days past every time we would troll by the Turtle Farm the Man O wars be hanging spying the bait feeding off the outflow pipe.

    Caught quite a few Wahoo there.

    Cayman culture and livelihood began with turtleing. While it might be distasteful to some, so what don,t eat them that’s your choice.

    It was a good tourist attraction.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some workers feel that they can call in sick every week or two. Come in late, do little work and the boss should not say anything to them about it, that’s how it is on the Brac with Civic Servants.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What Strike? Are they part of a union I’m unaware of? I couldn’t even imagine the BS the managers have to deal with their workforce demographic. They put expats in these positions because they don’t want to deal with entitled whiners that call in sick steady, ask any Caymanian business owner and they’ll tell you the same

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sell off the land side, dig up the parking lot and let’s get back to this being just a farm again.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How is it possible that this incompetent Board remains in place along with the CEO and the COO after their performance before the Public Accounts Committee.
    Where is the investigations by the Standards in Public Life and the Anti-corruption Committee, should not both the CEO and the COO have been suspended while the investigation is ongoing.
    Opps forgot this is PPM/Unity administration that appointed the Standards in Public Life and the Anti-corruption Committee as well as the CEO and COO NOTHING WILL HAPPEN

  5. Leo says:

    Give the staff free pizza

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why was BB there? Looking pretty, as the saying goes, I might imagine.

    No help will come from him or the other one.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Just close it down and quit killing turtles.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think this is probably the best solution to this problem. No controversial money absorbing death house, no problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      YES! Let close it down and put the 90 Caymanians out of work. They can go on NAU. They are already getting $1,000 stipend and their insurance paid by government anyway.

  8. Sunrise says:

    Time to rise up and get what is ours!! Revolution is for the intelligent, riots is for the foolish!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, just another day in Paradise.

    The history of the CTC is a dark stain on Cayman. No meaningful reform will occur until the Government itself has expelled corruption. I won’t hold my breath.

    How the executives received (and accepted) raises when those who do the daily tasks have their pay cut is appalling, immoral, should be criminal, but alas – probably is not. 5 years ago I had 9 employees; due to a downturn, I stopped my pay so that my loyal employees could pay their bills. I guess I’m a dinosaur.

    Cayman… Where have you gone?

    • Anonymous says:

      To Jamaica.

    • Anonymous says:

      Such a noble act on your part to help your employees. They are fortunate to have a boss that cares about them. Thank you!
      Some CEO’s of these smaller SAGCs run the place like they own it. By hiring from their close circle of friends and their church members=nepotism!!
      When a Caymanian leaves they are happy that they are gone! Opening up a space for another handpicked devotee.
      Are these BOARDS MEMBERS blind or deaf or is it that really don’t care what is going on right under noses. Boards please preserve your name and respect by holding these CEOs accountable. They have no HR departments and it’s the CEO and their ‘elevated’ assistants that act as the HR department. So forget about complaining, the only recourse is the Ombudsman. Unfortunate for the young Caymanian trying to get a job at one these places.
      Painful to watch a born Caymanian let go and to be replaced by a status holder.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Turtle stew?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Prefer if they could just shut down that useless waste of space (and money) called the turtle farm.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Adams can’t handle it. It’s plain as day.

  13. Anonymous says:

    PPM baby.

    • Anonymous says:


      The farm started in the 1950’s

      The government bought it in 1983

      MacKeeva turned it into an entertainment flop during his time as Leader/Premier

      • Chris Johnson says:

        I think you will find it started in the sixties when it was at Salt Creek. Please correct me if I am wrong. In the seventies it moved at a time when the Commonwealth Finance Development Company of London invested in it. Rodger Webster represented that company and last year he wrote a book about the farm.
        You are right about the Bush element. Clearly no one had done a proper feasibility study. It was always going to be money down the drain.

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