Work permit freeze proposal brings BTE house down

| 17/04/2017
Cayman News Service

Dwayne Seymour

(CNS Elections): The idea of freezing all work permits until all Caymanians looking for employment have a job was a popular suggestion among the crowd that attended Thursday’s forum for candidates in Bodden Town East. The event at the Bodden Town Civic Centre, which had the largest crowd for the Q&A sessions so far, revealed overwhelming support for Dwayne Seymour’s idea of putting a stop to foreign workers until locals can secure decent jobs.  

A number of questions touched on the need to help unemployed locals and the ability of those in jobs to advance, as all four candidates wrestled to appear tough on bosses employing foreign workers.

At the third forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, with independent candidates Arnold Berry and Dwayne Seymour, the PPM’s Osbourne Bodden and CDP candidate Robert Bodden, immigration and the perception that Caymanians are not getting their fair share was one of the most popular issues raised by candidates and welcomed by the crowd.

Berry said Caymanians should come first, second and third and that businesses have to be told to give locals a chance, but Seymour brought the house down as the audience cheered when he said politicians had to be willing to meet with the companies and stop them from carrying on business as usual, and suggested introducing a moratorium on work permits.

Seymour, an MLA in the 2009-2013 UDP government who is now running as an independent, said there was a need for a more effective watchdog over bad employers who fire local people and replace them with permit holders.

“On day one, the first thing is to put a freeze on permits and sort out the unemployed,” he stated, saying no more permits should be approved for workers coming from overseas until the 1,500 to 2,000 unemployed locals are in work.

Robert Bodden (CDP) said that on day one after the elections, the new government should call a meeting to speak with bosses because no one is representing them and locals are forced to compete against permit holders, who are being promoted and advanced by their bosses over Caymanians.

Meanwhile, Osbourne Bodden, the current minister who deals with the unemployed, accepted that educated Caymanians are not getting the chances they should. He said experienced and qualified people cannot get work and those that do cannot get through the glass ceiling. 

But he warned that employers must embrace local workers, otherwise it will have a detrimental impact on the wide fabric of society. He said that employers themselves will suffer in the long term if they don’t include Caymanians in the economic success.

He also hinted that the PPM government may be coming around to the idea of allowing workers to see business staffing plans — though government has resisted lobbying by MLA Ezzard Miller (North Side), who for a long time has pushed for public access to these documents, which spell out the present and future employment goals of larger firms.

Bodden pointed out that the Caymanians working in large firms do not get to see them, so they don’t know what is going on and “are being fooled around”, as he implied that this may be a policy shift for the Progressives. 

Getting tough on immigration, limiting or freezing permits, preventing promotion of foreign workers, changing the permanent residency system to eliminate the right of foreigners to get status and many other policy ideas that would cut employers’ access to foreign workers has been a strong theme for many of the independent candidates, who still blame Cayman’s significant dependence on foreign workers for many of the country’s socio-economic ills.

The next Chamber forum is scheduled for Tuesday evening in Prospect.

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Category: Campaigns, Candidates

Comments (132)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting….Caymanians in immigration and on immigration boards and Caymanian business owners hiring foreigners…..hmmmm perhaps it is the Caymanians who need to give us some of that greed and stop hiring people for slave wages and stop circumventing the immigration laws?

    • Anonymous says:

      Begs the question, if you had expats on these boards would you have more Caymanians employed?

  2. Caymanian says:

    I sometimes think people like John John believes his own crap. Unemployment is such a delicious topic to talk about because “Cayman First” comes up. I am going to put Caymanians first while beating their chest. CRAP CRAP CRAP. He only says it because he knows you love to hear that so much. Then they get in and it all disappears. Truth is it’s a simpler problem to fix than it is made out to be. It just sounds good for political mileage.

  3. Caymanian says:

    Here is what I want to know. Excuse me for simplifying things.

    We have some really smart people in Cayman Islands government. If we have a number do we have the names of the people who are unemployed? Can we not have a meeting with these people one on one and find out what is happening? Why is this so hard? Let’s pull 5 staff members aside and set a week aside and sit with these people and find out why they are not employed and what their skills and job history is.

    Then….once that is done we simply pick them off one by one. We database them with their job history and skills. Then no work permits for those positions are approved until a candidate is interviewed and the employer explains in GRAVE detail why they did not hire the unemployed candidate.

    People we are talking about a 2,000 people not 2 million. Why do we have to shut down work permits for this? Why?? For the love of God are we that simply that we can not tackle a simple issue such as this?

    In Cayman we have unemployed and unemployable and people who just don’t want to work. We need to define these people and know TRULY what is our unemployed figure. NOT politics but about people.

    We need to remember we are talking about real lives here tied to other lives. Let’s stop politicking the situation and get to fixing it. We make mountains here out of molehills. This is not a big problem if tackled in a smart way.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does this plan stop people hiring foreigners to rough other men messing with the sacred vessel? Just checking. Would one have to go local in the future?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Osbourne Bodden….let me see if you are willing to hire 2 caymanians to work for you, who tried bring guns in Cayman?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Clearly this candidate is dumber than a sack of hair. But, none-the -less his suggestion is a frightening reminder of what intelligent voters are up against. Let’s all pray more learned hands prevail. Intentional pun.

  7. Anonymous says:

    My company just have fired 2 caymanians due they are lazy for work….

  8. Anonymous says:

    Great idea Duane! Cancel all work permit renewals and force employers to hire the 1,500-2,000 previously unemployables. Brilliant! But don’t stop there. I would like to suggest a few changes to the Labour Law as well in the interest of making these jobs sustainable. For Caymanians only: 1) 20-30 sick/personal days (We should be able to take these anytime we want and if we use them all up, there should be a way to get more without penalty) 2) Flex time work hours (Show up whenever you want and leave whenever you want. I am sick of people telling me when to come to work) 3) minimum 8 weeks vacation (They do it in Europe and that turned out well) 4) absolutely no drug testing allowed (A likkle weed never hurt no one) 5) move the minimum wage for Caymanians only to $15.00/hour (maybe more if you think you can swing it). Duane…you get these changes done and you got my vote fi tru!
    Go UDP/CDP/PIP/whatever you are this time.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What a brilliant idea! Let’s start by freezing work permits for Doctors, Policemen, lawyers, accountants, teachers, laborers, hospitality. That should do it, not more caymanian unemployment…. Brilliant. why don’t you solve the poverty problem while you’re at it and make minimum wage 450.00 per hour?

  10. Anonymous says:

    The headline is correct. If such a proposal was carried through it would bring down the house. EVERYONE’s HOUSE.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians have been labeled all as lazy; however, you can find productive and non-productive people ANYWHERE in the world. My husband worked for over eighteen years in the same company, he was trained for that kind of work; also one of the most experienced in his department. Two years ago the company decided to make redundant technicians positions & outsourced their work by using another company to replace these hard working Caymanians with immigrants whilst these Caymanians were able to do the same work with the same quality & outcome. Since then my husband has been applying for jobs but without success , most of these companies do not even have the courtesy to email or call to state the reason in which he was not selected.

    • It is important to remember why big businesses do business in Cayman. It is not for love of Caymanians, but for $$. If those companies hire Caymanians, perforce ( of law, in this case) they will ONLY do so as long as it is profitable. So, instead of just a hiring freeze on foreign workers, try raising the cost of permits in areas where Caymanians are known to be willing and qualified to work. Make it cost enough that it is simply not profitable to ignore Locals and businesses may suddenly find a way to hire more Caymanians, as they should!

      • Anonymous says:

        This raising of the permit fees has never worked, all it has done is driven down the remuneration packages and caused employers to seek ever cheaper labour to compensate for rising costs.

        For the past 30 plus years we have tried to create opportunity for Caymanians by limiting others, has this worked? I think the current state of affairs will show that NO! exclusion has not worked.

        We need to look for a better way, find out why Caymanians are being passed over, we need to get off our (Yes I am from Cayman, both my parents were born right yah so, and all their parents, and all their parents) high horses and look for real solutions. The Cayman Protection Board, the Work Permit Board, the NWDA, The Business Staffing Plan Board and all the other multitude of Boards have not worked, so why continue trying the same thing?

    • Anonymous says:

      Did he work for Dart? That is their sop.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Maybe give them jobs in the legislative assembly to replace this lot!

  13. Anonymous says:

    is this the same guy who employed unemployed Caymanians to beat up a tourist for him?

  14. Anon says:

    How can people not see through this
    BS…where in the world can an unqualified individual rock up and start working as a lawyer, doctor, nurse etc purely because of their citizenship!

    Instead of this continuous expat vs caymanian mindset it would be far more beneficial if both sides came together and demanded better education, better support for the disadvantaged and better services.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s for the caymanians to do themselves.

    • The problem is, too often the locals DO have appropriate credentials, but are intentionally avoided. Now, we must be very careful not to create an entitlement mindset, as wherever that has set into a work force it has always produced slovenly and even surly workers. But, to specifically write want ads with ” poison pen” requirements is ignorant and abusive of those who are hosting the business in the first place.

  15. Jordan says:

    Well, very interesting and the truth is that we have to get our people educated and they MUST have a change of attitude. Therefore, we trade out a nurse for a qualified Caymanian nurse. We trade out a Tractor Operator for a trained Caymanian Tractor Operator and the list goes on and on in every field from the White Collar worker to the Blue Collar worker. What JON JON is missing, is that, until our islands have our people trained and qualified, he has no grounds to speak on that topic. His utterance is plain bull$hit that cannot even be used as fertilizer. As such, my garden would not be productive; such as Jon Jon’s contribution is plain, non-productive.
    I now share a personal experience. I saw a young Caymanian gentleman being abused on the job. I was hurt for the young man and offered him a job and hired him on the spot. During the interview, I discovered that he is being paid the minimum wage. I offered him more and he was so grateful. Two days later he called asking for more and I agreed to what he was asking for. We decided that he should start this morning as he had to give his employers notice. To my surprise, this young man did not turn up to work this morning neither did he call. With that type of bad work ethics and attitude, how the rA$$ are we going to freeze work permits? Just this type of behaviour is going to cost me a fee to employ an expat who will not only work but will be respectful. Jon Jon, please train our people and prepare them to be good employees.

    • Anonymous says:

      This generation is behaving like that because of parenting issues my dear. Lack of responsibility and no foundation of good morals and values. Not all are like this. Some are seeing the importance of having a job and keeping it. The only way to remove this stigma is to stop spreading it. Sorry that this guy didn’t work out for u however there are many caymanians such as myself who do work very hard and show gratitude. Then we get lied to and casted aside simply because we ask questions and are seen as a threat when we speak up for what’s right. It is not all bad in jon jon’s idea. Just need to be molded a bit. Some have training and experience and are still NEVER given a chance. Further more companies themselves should provide training for ALL new employees. How else will ANYONE learn how they want thier company to run.

      • Anonymous says:

        ARE YOU JOKING!!!??!!??!! NO, no you’re not. You honestly think that NOT saying that so many irresponsible Caymanian employees merely do not show up without calling with any reason is going to stop it??? I worked recruitment years ago and was adamant that we put Caymanians forward for all possible positions that they could squeak in. In my first 2 weeks one of my placements just didn’t show up for work. No call, nothing. Worst part was that they had a employee social the evening before. He carried on and was too hungover to even pick up his mobile phone to call in. He was asked not to come back.
        AND!!! And ohmygosh this is the best… “Further more companies themselves should provide training for ALL new employees. How else will ANYONE learn how they want their company to run.” .. First, ‘furthermore’ is one word.. But more importantly, which companies, just on this one island alone, should be hiring entry level positions to TRAIN them how to RUN their company?? LOL!! Do you think that your baby boy will get trained on the job to go from mailroom runner to COO in how long??
        We can’t all be like Big Mac and quit school at 13 expecting to run a country.
        You are who the word ‘entitlement’ is made for. Now you might understand the next time the word is used

  16. Anonymous says:

    I know of eleven people who are not going to vote this time in BTE because of the utter hopelessness of all the candidates. I suspect overall voter turnout in Cayman will be down as we have some really useless options. For example, Prospect has Lucille Seymour, Austin Harris and Matthew Leslie. I mean, seriously??!

    • Anonymous says:

      Vote for the person who has the best group of colleagues. They will assist. Together they can achieve more than you may realise.

      • Anonymous says:

        Vote for the three stooges, there is a plan.

      • Anonymous says:

        Can’t vote for Ozzie the racist foul mouthed abuser of his female senior civil servant. We’ve voted for him in the past but no way this time. Sorry, 10:46 am.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Great idea, but please start with the Civil Service. Too many guest workers are being promoted and changing positions that Caymanians should have and hold.

    • Anonymous says:

      and then the hospitals, we can repalce some of our expat surgeons for our unemployed breathren

      • Anonymous says:

        Sure let’s get rid of all qualified staff in bring in uneducated inept unemployable persons. Great plan. You know what, if you have the skills, businesses will hire you. If you know how to conjugate the verb to be, you have a real shot at a job.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I think we need to add some basic qualifications before someone can run for office. I think they should at least be able to recite the alphabet, with all of the letters, including L-m-n-o-p. As well as count past the number of digits on their fingers and toes.
    Maybe I am asking too much. I know it is I high standard, but moving forward it will benefit us all.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Quality education is key if you want to see our youth succeed. I paid for private school for my children until my divorce, my ex, a Caymanian does not pay what he is ordered to. He has the money, but has more fun things to spend it on. That is aside from the point. I was forced to put the kids in public school. And, it is sooo sad. The students, even the willing ones are so shafted educationally. It is really sad. They are two to three years behind the private schools academically.

    • Anonymous says:

      Therein lies one of the problems you are not alone with your ex husband not paying child support. It is not enforced in court. I have brought mine to court and the judge – a male – doesn’t do anything about it. However, when judge Ramsey was here she enforced it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Omg, what a buffoon. Let’s just put a stake in in the heart of of off shore product. Wow, pander much.