Ministry begins cutting tourism workers’ stipend

| 17/02/2022 | 86 Comments

 (CNS): More than 600 tourism workers are being trimmed from the list of about 3,000 original recipients of the government’s monthly CI$1,500 stipend, which was created to help them survive after Cayman closed its borders to visitors almost two years ago. But many of those who have returned to work are still receiving only a fraction of their pre-pandemic earnings. The labour ministry is therefore transitioning these people off the list by cutting payments over the next two months, in the hope that tourism will recover and guests return.

All stipend recipients were expecting the regular monthly cheques earlier this week but government had told them that payments would be delayed as they worked on cleaning up the list. Recipients are now expected to get their money on Friday, but those who did not complete the survey sent out earlier this month have been advised that they will not be processed for payment this week and need to complete the survey.

The list of stipend recipients has been reduced by more than 20%. Although the former tourism workers were given little notice, fears that the rest would lose all support in this first cut were unfounded, as the government is instead introducing a transitional two-month grant period.

Original WhatsApp message (click to enlarge)

Nevertheless, payments are being cut significantly to $1,000 this month and then down to $750 in March, when they will be asked to complete another survey on their status. At that time government hopes to cut people adrift or offer some other form of support.

According to officials, this first group of people dropped from the list all claimed to have returned to full-time work or had re-opened small businesses. But there are concerns that many were still not earning very much at all and it could be many more months before they are able to do so.

Nevertheless, the ministry is pressing ahead with trimming the list further and is urging the nearly 2,400 people still getting the $1,500 to find work, warning that it will continue to review the circumstances of those receiving the stipend.

The move from the tourism ministry to the labour ministry paved the way for the survey on the stipend recipients’ employment status and other information. Chief Officer Wesley Howell said these payments were an emergency measure put in place to help those who suddenly lost their income when the borders shut.

“Since the reopening of tourism in November of last year, the economy and local situation have steadily improved, and we are pleased to say that around 625 previously unemployed stipend recipients are now back to work full-time,” Howell said. “As the ministry responsible for Caymanian employment, having responsibility for this stipend changes the focus to a more active pursuit of full-time employment for these job seekers.

“With the new Tourism Recovery Grant programme, we are stepping away from simply administering stipend payments without continued vetting and assessment and moving to providing proactive support in both finding jobs and providing training and certification opportunities to those who have resumed employment,” he added. 

Howell said the transition period recognises the reduced hours, as tourism is not back to its full speed, and that self-employed people who have re-opened their businesses are not operating at their usual capacity.

“We fully understand that being back to work and fully employed does not mean that people are back to their former level of income,” Howell accepted. “It is understood that people will still need some support.”

Tourism workers were no longer displaced workers, he said, but part of the industry’s post-pandemic recovery, and government will also offer training and other support during the transition

Labour Minister Chris Saunders has consistently raised concerns that the government cannot keep paying the stipend and has been focused on getting people back to work.

“We understand that there is no greater satisfaction than being in control of your own destiny through working at a job or occupation you love and being a contributing and productive member of society. This is our hope for all Caymanians. And we have taken action to make this hope a reality,” he said.

“There have been several training opportunities offered to stipend recipients specifically in the tourism field through the Ministry and Department of Tourism in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) beginning in 2021, and we have also jointly organised a Tourism Job Fair that was well attended. These efforts continue, combined with new endeavours.”

Saunders said that tourism stipend recipients who remain unemployed, like all Caymanian job seekers, should register with JobsCayman, the government’s employment portal, which now hosts all vacancies and where there are currently over 800 jobs available, though many are not tourism-related.

“The leadership teams at the ministry and at WORC have made a concerted effort to encourage tourism stipend recipients to both register with WORC for employment assistance and to register via the JobsCayman portal to assist in their search for full-time employment,” he said. “We have tourism industry partners who are eager to employ Caymanians as the hospitality industry continues to recover from the dire effects of the pandemic.”

Those impacted by the trimming of the list will be offered training, including paid on-the-job government-subsidized training in new fields that will lead to technical and vocational certification.

“Through these new efforts, we hope to provide training and certification to stipend recipients, recovery grant participants and other Caymanian jobseekers that will equip them for success,” Saunders said, adding that more details of these new programmes will be released in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, WORC Acting Director Laura Watler said the agency was working on making the job listings on the government portal more accessible to more people.

“We understand the limitations with accessibility to the job listings and we are working on solutions to remove these,” she said. “This week, we will begin advertising all local job listings in the printed weekly newspapers so job seekers can see the available jobs and then follow the registration process to apply online.”

WORC is also making job listings on the JobsCayman portal visible without registration, and to make the application process through registration more streamlined.

Officials also noted that both the new grants and continued stipends to those who completed the survey will be paid in line with previous arrangements, either direct bank deposits or cheque payments. Requests for a change from direct bank deposit to cheque cannot be accommodated and no new applications for the displaced tourism worker stipend are being accepted.

For more information on the tourism stipend programme and the tourism recovery grant programme, email

See full text of the email sent to stipend recipients struck from the list.

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Category: Business, Jobs, Local News, Tourism

Comments (86)

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  1. Keep that in mind says:

    Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us
    Why the future doesn’t need us. Our most powerful 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So $21million is being paid out to replace beach sand without demolishing the hotel barrier walls, yet so many local families with no food this weekend?!!

  3. Anonyy says:

    Is PACT so tone deaf?

    Quickly establish a Minimum Wage – one without grats as a consideration, as the Lemuel Hurlstone Committee had wrongly decided, but with a real Liveable Wage!

    Do an Aptitude Test to separate the Unemployed/WORC clients so employers can easily focus and choose on what they need.

    Open up UCCI for free to all under 29years old and all un or under employed.

    Allow free public bus transport for these people – on a ticket basis, that can then be redeemed at CIG.

    Arrange a bulk import/storage/distribution centre for some basic staple home goods – for little cash goes even less at local supermarkets inflated prices.

    Base the stipend/WORC grants and increases for families on their kids’ grades. ie encourage education!

    Create an Education Savings Bond for families and CIG / companies to deposit into for college education.

    Create a Housing Trust – or allow NHDT – to allow investments/bond sales, and use funds for social housing.

    URGENTLY hold regular Community Meetings, since there seems to be no intention to allow Constitutional District Committees as they promised.

    Consult with locals who know best, and who they are ignoring.
    I’m an ex CIG staffer, and while I don’t have all the answers, bringing us together could produce some spectacular improvements.
    If Only tho

    • Anonymous says:

      Idiot. Tourism business models have grats built in. You abolish grats, or the hotels cease to exist. Them you have no tourism Jobs as you. Have no hotels. You cannot seriously be suggesting a hotel or restaurant have a minimum wage of 10 or 15 bucks an hour for post school 18 yo caymanian kids? Thee would be no hotels or restaurants left,

      • Anonymous says:

        Funny. They have hotels in Restaurants in France, The United Kingdom, Switzerland. Rather good ones actually. They invented tourism business and have no grats built in. They pay professional staff a professional wage for a professional service.

        • Anonymous says:

          They invented tourism?
          I recall a certain inn keeper who did not have room for Mary and Joseph; and a certain inn where the Good Samaritan stopped by…
          From Bible times!

      • Anonymous says:

        Those business models are built on throw away slave wage work permit employees, not profit sharing or training and recruiting locals on a liveable wage ie $3,000+ per month.
        The cream jobs like bartenders they give to their college buddies, who then peddly molly, spike drinks and make a killing.
        A ganja smoking boy cant mix a mudslide doh.

  4. Anonymous says:

    All of you forgot that The entire PACK government was created by the Pied Piper. Perhaps they should continue to hand out their money instead of ours! Guess they will soon have us all “scraping the bottom of the barrel” meantime groceries up X 3 and I tried 6 times and stayed on the phone for more than half and hour waiting for someone at Registrar of companies to answer the phone! Oh by the way they don’t bother to return a call either. This Little Rock is moving at a hundred miles an hour- backwards.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If people want stipend receivers to find work you need to bring salaries to a living wage. It has to be a cost of living wage. $10 per hour is not enough. In this day and age anything less than $15 per hour cannot pay rent, elect,water, phones, gas, medical insurance, house insurance, then food for 3-4 people. what about if you have children government is giving free breakfast and lunch because can’t buy it for their children? A living wage based on cost of living.
    My salary in 1980 was $1000 per month. Elect. was $40 per month and rent was $140 per month. Today people are still making $1000 a month and rent is higher then $1000 per month. Stupid idiots, it can’t work, Minimum wage has to start at $15 per hour.

    • Anonymous says:

      They need to bring their education and skills to the 21st century basic requirements first.

    • Anonymous says:

      I reacted to your comment, not responded. Apologies. You are correct. In The Cayman Islands, due to its specificities, the minimum wage must be a living wage. In the absence of public trade schools, training centers and addressing adult learning disabilities LOCALLY one can’t expect much from the unemployed and unemployable Caymaninans- not their fault if to look at the problem deeply and widely. Therefore paying them living wage for the menial work is a must. And CIG can do that and has no one to blame.

      P.S. I know someone, who is a former co-worker, a middle-aged Caymanian, who had an administrative job in one of the large firms. This person really tried, but simply couldn’t perform to the basic performance standards. Yet, this person was punctual, dedicated and really tried to succeed, therefore continued to be employed by the firm. Then this person had to leave Cayman to take care of the ailing parents in the US. For 4 years in the US this person did tried to get at least a part time job, any job, and tried really really hard, yet no lack. Upon returning toCayman this person is employed and I am happy for them. My attitude towards unemployable Caymanians have changed- some really want to succeed, but without meaningful help from the CIG they can’t. It starts with the dismal educational system and to overcome its shortcomings Caymanians need help.

  6. Anonymous says:

    #1. Continued Education for every recipient is not addressed at all. They are probably so behind in information technology and other skills to get and keep a job. Every job today requires basic competency in information technology. Free classed with a mandatory exam is a must for every recipient. If they fail the exam
    #2. Some, and I suspect many, might have learning disabilities (LD) which can be evaluated and addressed with proper training. Vision information processing could be just one disability that prevents a person from working efficiently.
    A team of trained professionals to evaluate and help individuals with LD, including children, must be recruited. This is way overdue.
    “….the five Caymanians who were appointed to these lucrative positions, in some cases on five-year contracts. All of them are currently being paid while not actually doing the work they were hired to do, since the offices still do not exist.” WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE INVESTIGTION? ➡️The money for doing nothing could be diverted to pay for re-educating Caymanians and to pay for evaluation for LD and subsequent treatments.

    • Anonymous says:

      Talk about sweeping generalization. So, I get you right: receiving a grant that was open to Tourism Workers means you are fool-fool, dumb and can’t use Microsoft outlook? Got ya. Stick up!

      • Anonymous says:

        Someone is still using Microsoft outlook?

      • Anonymous says:

        Isn’t Microsoft Outlook obsolete?

      • Anonymous says:

        Basic digital competences include more than ability to use an outdated Microsoft Outlook.

        The changes of the work environment of the 21st century have created new knowledge, skill, and ability requirements for workers.

        The rapid pace of technological change and the transition to a knowledge-based economy is going to increase the demand for highly skilled and well-educated workers.

        The exclusion of Caymanians from an increasingly digitalised labour market calls for the creation of new theoretical and practical understanding of the skills they need to develop employability.

        The continued employability of older and unskilled adults, particularly those of lower socioeconomic status, requires them to participate in training programs to ensure their competence in today’s workplace.

        Aging and unskilled workforce may not have been exposed to changes in technology, will continually need to engage in training and retraining activities to remain competitive in the work force.

        Successful completion of training for job-related activities requires a broad range of perceptual, cognitive, and motor abilities.

        Many cognitive abilities—such as working memory, attentional processes, and spatial cognition—that are important to learning show decline with age, especially under conditions of complexity or when a task represents an unfamiliar cognitive domain.

        Despite these age-related changes in abilities older and unskilled adults are able to learn new skills, though it typically takes them longer than younger adults, and they require more practice and more environmental support.

        • Anonymous says:

          Adult learning centers in the different districts to teach basic computer skills would help many.

          Enabling those in need is doing the most good.

    • We are in a mess says:

      Let start by cutting MP. Pact. Officially the worst Government in the Cayman Islands history. They mismanaged covid 19. Mismanageed the tousim stipend. Unemployed Caymanians still haven?t gotten their stipen money and cant buy groceries on a fidayy evennimg.
      Still no cruiseships. Few air arrivals and no plan.
      High unemployment. They have a plan to borrow money and bankrupt the country.Lord save us from them. What a mess we are in.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lower the prices of airfare and hotels and the tourism would pick up. People are going elsewhere on holiday.

  7. Anonymous says:

    From the moment i heard of frustration tactics I realized that those caymanians getting that stipend would have to resort to begging for that measly 1500 per month. Meanwhile, in the same breath we lament how work permit numbers are growing. Why not just pay the Caymanians that stipend until a set date in the future, based on projections, that reflect a strong possibility to some degree yo normalcy? Say Jun/July and the stipend is over for everyone instead of having them beg and bleed to convince someone they are not starving enough? They seem to be concentrating on income. What about the reality of expenditure. 1500 in Cayman is 3 bags of groceries, CUC and 1 tank of gas. Caymanians boy…finding every-way, in bad-mind, to tear another one down. Oh and you gotta love the jealously. The way I see it, every Caymanian should have a stipend, if they need it. The multi-millionaire expats this country is producing should make the stipend 2K for far as I can see. Speaking of which: that 2K was pie in the sky. Electioneering. Poor us, they have us so ashamed of even getting help or receiving help. We even afraid to ask for it. The people receiving that stipend…the vast majority, are not jumping on planes. Easy for those who are making 6, 7, 10 K a month to scrutinize with your bifocals. Wha unna should scrutinize, you all turn a blind eye to. smh right clean off.

    • Anonymous says:

      How’s about we reduce the number of government employees by 50%

      Spending $1,500,000 a day on payroll is ridiculous on such a small island. God knows what any of them do.

      And for the benefit scrounges, put them to work. There’s plenty of rubbish to collect

    • Anonymous says:

      Man you said a mouth full! Kudos. I completely agree with you. Saunders was handed the job and they are going to link the aide of Caymanians on this grant to the government deficit. The people’s government alright. Sad that they are looking at a list of caymanians that continue to seek the grant and wanting to castigate them for receiving that grant! Then you got to love reporters that talk about prosecuting people! For what?! Being poor, in deep need or taking a grant that is open to them and not you?!

  8. Anonymous says:

    So the recent Millions given to gyms, Chamber members, tour operators etc is ok?
    Where is the Minimum Wage Committee??
    Tourism was our first cornerstone industry,upon which the development industry is now built.
    Never mind the private sector deals, peppercorn leases and duty waivers.
    And internally, $120Millions to Renovate the airport, millions to the Eric Bush/Dubai fiascos.
    Set up a fund to train and support real local rourism workers.
    Period. And dont let Eric Bush near it!

  9. Just Saying.... says:

    just got a job in tourism. first pay check for 3 week kyd$400 and change. wtf ….my one hour pay still can’t buy a gallon of milk. minister Turner promise she was gonna change that but unfortunately just empty promises.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get yourself on the internet, either start a small business or get some education it’s free. If you are of no use to society, that’s your fault. Not ours

    • Anonymous says:

      What is ‘a job in tourism’? You need to be more specific. Skilled expats who are servers at some bars and restaurants earn almost 100k a year with gratuities. Learn to be as good as them

      • Anonymous says:

        We often are as good as them. The hiring managers don’t give us a chance.

      • Anonymous says:

        When I go on holiday, I tip extremely well to those who serve me very well. If I get attitude, the tip shows in their demeanor. I tip everyone from the gardener on up if they are doing something that makes my holiday extra special. Be extraordinary at your job, make it a pleasant experience and you will receive great grats. Act like you hate your job and you are just another sour face worker.

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn’t you hear that empty vessels make the most noise? Asking for a friend.

  10. Anon says:

    Would love it if they reinvested the proceeds in police cars indicating

  11. Anonymous says:

    Lol. Airport parking, day 2, 5, 10 arrival tests – all abolished, all quick money makers disguised as essential.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What do we expect…they now have to purchase designer handbags…Ju Ju has to get her TWO schools…personnel being paid for overseas offices…land deals…. seem s#@t different day.

  13. Heidi says:

    How about we address the ridiculous ass minimum wage people are being paid vs. the freaking cost of living. People making $1500.00 from the stipend probably never saw that kind of money prior to the stipend and most likely will not see once the stipend is cut! You all are addressing the wrong issue!

    • Anonymous says:

      It goes without saying that in any society, as poverty increases, so do crimes such as thefts, burglaries, robberies, assaults, etc.

      Desperate people do desperate things.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Watch the complaints pour in from the grifters!

  15. Anonymous says:

    The CIG doesn’t warranty customers for any other industry.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correct. Government policy, however, has been non-supportive of other sectors of the economy, where Caymanians are hurting, but are being (and have been) ignored.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Good, get those lazy sheets back to work.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The WORC/JobsCayman website is very poorly designed and not user-friendly at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      Surprised? Same as every CIG website. Designed as badly as the road signs – only in Cayman do you press a pedestrian crossing and the light comes on to cross instantly, rather than have a 10 second wait so cars don’t hit you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Very true.

  18. Anonymous says:

    About time as so many are working full time jobs and pulling in thousands of dollars.This is a fact not hearsay 😵‍💫

  19. Anonymous says:

    About …. time why should other persons who salaries have been reduced due to lack of tourists [retail/service positions that made a set salary with commission such as those in the beauty sector] have been surviving on less money but because “dem is expat” it no matter…

    It is fraud and wickedness to think that if you now have a job you should STILL be getting tourism stipen … #CaymanTheif

    • Anonymous says:

      Saunders said he will not pursue those people and prosecute for cheating the system.
      Of course not, they’re his and Seymour’s voting base.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anyone that collected a cheque fraudulently should be made to pay it back.

        • Anonymous says:

          from behind bars!

          • Anonymous says:

            But the police do not enforce the law so even though the public is being openly defrauded the police will not do anything. What is worse is that part of the reason they are not enforcing the law is that they are bowing to political pressures. This is state sponsored and police enabled theft!

  20. Anonymous says:

    “This week, we will begin advertising all local job listings in the printed weekly newspapers so job seekers can see the available jobs and then follow the registration process to apply online.”

    Previously, employers were required to advertise in print media. WORC, in its “World Class” wisdom, removed that requirement and required all jobs to be posted on its website. WORC has finally realized that accessing available jobs online through its website was a deterrent for some Caymanians. But hey, you Job Seeker better learn to use WORC’s website as you have to apply ONLINE!


  21. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is not for caymanian any More.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanian not been for Cayman for long time.

      • Anonymous says:

        I bought my condo from a Caymanian – they were pleased with the profit they made.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ha ha ha….comment of the day. And they went out and bought a Chevy Tahoe gas guzzler with the profit.

      • Bobo Fett says:

        Kayla Young explained it and yet the song remains the same.


        • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

          A very worthy and relevant read that clocks the changing of our values, and perhaps the passing of a culture. How many acres of dead mangrove will it take before the trend is irreversible? Are we already past that point?

          I’ve been to South Beach, Florida. Hated it. It was probably once beautiful before it became solely the playground for the rich. Even so, it still has more parks and trees than much of the former Seven Mile Beach. Got nothing against rich folk. Like some of them. We’ve created a class difference that is going to bite us in the tail.

    • Sonny Bobo says:

      With the cost of living having no ceiling here, and nothing being done to address it, the national dish of Cayman will soon be Ramen noodles or Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches on cheap bread.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I offer a simple solution:

    Open the borders and drop all testing requirements.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Remember, you voted for this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, no, I didn’t. I only have PR so can’t wote or run for office.

      Here’s an idea: Allow PR holders to wote and run for office, which most likely would eliminate payments for wotes and bring a touch of professionalism, expertise and — I hope — morals and decency to the parliamentary process in the Cayman Islands.

      Until then, don’t complain about the woman-beaters, lack of proper police enforcement, ex-pat workers without proper permits, loss of 7-Mile Beach, inability of young Caymanians to purchase homes, etc.

      You woted ’em in, and you’re getting what you asked for. Change the cycle or stop complaining and blaming everyone else.

      • Anon says:

        I would “wote” for you!

      • Anonymous says:

        Someone switched the w and v keys on your keyboard…..that or you drive a wolwo

      • Anonymous says:

        That day will NEVER come. Too many on the gravy train and too many hangers on, family, associates, business partners, 3rd cousins twice removed and such like who would be losing out. I just let them moan and take the dollars every month.

  24. Anonymous says:

    WORC continues to operate a policy that says F&B positions (and some other positions ideal for school leavers and less skilled persons) do not need to be advertised. You literally could not make this stuff up.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Saunders is a heartless politician that fooled us all. He soon learn tho

    • Anonymous says:

      Heartless? For stopping paying people tax payers money who have gotten another job? For suggesting that those who are still struggling despite that job can apply for additional support, but will have to demonstrate they need the money instead of just being given it every month regardless?

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s not tax payers money, it’s debt from the Bank of England.

        • Anonymous says:

          No it’s not. UK doesn’t put a penny in here – although apparent we shell out money to co fund expos in Dubai!

          • Anonymous says:

            Who do you think backs their loans? Cayman has no credit rating and cannot borrow money without U.K. guarantees.
            So regardless of where the money comes from, it’s not off the backs of ‘hard working’ Caymanians and will have to be paid back.

            • Anon says:

              Of course Cayman has a credit rating (easily searchable online).

              However, I will admit that its rating is largely based on its relationship with the UK and would otherwise be multiple levels lower (which yes, would increase its cost of borrowing and reduce its ability to borrow significantly).

  26. Befuddled says:

    It seems Caymanian unemployed cannot access WORC’s job listings – only in Cayman!!.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s that because they aren’t “able” to because they are computer illiterate? Or because the site is not working? 🤭

  27. Anonymous says:

    About time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yet another fool who fails to realize that they have more in common with the poor than the wealthy.

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