West Bay hopeful stresses wage decline as key issue

| 11/05/2017
Cayman News Service

Mervin Smith

(CNS Election): Mervin Smith hammered home the message on Wednesday night that it is not just the number of work permits, poor training, education or skills gaps that is presenting a challenge to local people securing work, but the decline in wages. Smith, who is making a second attempt at securing a seat in West Bay as an independent, was one of five candidates from the district to appear in a televised national debate from the district, where crime and education dominated the discussion.

Smith is up against incumbent Bernie Bush and Sarah Orrett-Ebanks in the race for West Bay North. His performance and that of Education Minister Tara Rivers stood out during the third Cayman 27 debate, which is mixing up the candidates in the districts.

Also on the platform were Rivers’ challenger for the seat of West Bay South, John Jefferson Jr (CDP), as well as Kathy Wilks (Ind), who is going head-to-head with incumbent Capt. Eugene Ebanks in West Bay Central, and Paul Rivers, who is running in partnership with Smith. 

Paul Rivers is contesting the West Bay West seat, where he and Daphne Orrett (PPM) are up against Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, who is favoured to take the seat for what will be a record ninth term.

During the debate, crime and education dominated the discussion but Smith is one of the few candidates on the campaign trail who has pointed to the issue of depressed wages across many different sectors as a primary barriers to work for many local people. He said that in the fields where Caymanians had traditionally worked, salaries had decreased.

Smith said while people are looking everywhere and jumping up and down about where the problem of local unemployment lays, past politicians have failed to protect wages, which have not kept pace with inflation.

Dismissing ideas about price controls or reinstating the Caymanian Protection Board, Smith emphasised the earnings decline and said that if voters wanted to protect Caymanians in the workplace then the electorate had “to hire people who care about Caymanians”, suggesting a need for new faces in the Legislative Assembly.

His running mate, Paul Rivers, also pressed home the message of change for West Bay. He said that for decades voters in the district had been manipulated by the incumbents, which has seen the same old faces returned again and again, as he urged the electorate to vote for independents. The two men have published a joint manifesto and have promised to advocate for a CI$10 minimum wage within the construction industry if they are elected.

CNS note: This article has been amended to reflect that the CI$10 minimum wage relates to the construction industry. The article originally suggested that this would apply across the board.

See Rivers’ and Smith’s manifesto in the CNS Library

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Category: Candidates

Comments (25)

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  1. Sharkey says:

    I would agre with Mervin on the minimum wage . Just look at how many times has the cost of living has gone up in the last say 15 years , how do we expect for people live on $ 6.00 per hour .
    I think that the out of control work permit issue and the $6.00 minimum makes everyone includes Government happy , but the unskilled Caymanian shouldn’t have to suffer while everyone else gets rich and live high heaven .

    About the cost of housing , that would go up regardless if there’s a raise in the minimum wage . And they would still be paying $6.00 per hour . I would say that it’s a good idea and a good reason for anyone to vote for him .

  2. Unison says:

    All West Bay is Bush country, and it looks like its leaning to CDP’s favor – except West Bay South district, which Jefferson looks like he is losing to Tara Rivers …

    But pretty much your going to have CDP crew 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Why won’t people pick someone new. Those two both failed during their times in the house.

  3. Anonymous says:

    He has no clue what is going on. Does he want a communist society? Everyone should not get paid more money because it is nice to have. Especially if it is free money from the government.

    Why is he not encouraging these ppl to open their own business or get a second job? The reality is that certain jobs just pay less than others. It is about what the market values and is willing to pay. Did he go to any business classes? Did he take any economics classes?

    My mother worked a job that didn’t pay much either and she had to work three jobs to get by. My father had to do the same. They did this while they were young and had the energy. They saved the extra money they earned and built a house and kept working those extra jobs until they could pay off the mortgage. What about teaching Caymanians about hard work, grit and perseverance? It was once there. Why is the generation down not capable of the work of their parents?

    My parents were married and managed to do shift work. So I still had a parent at home. I could see they were tired, but they instilled in me hard work pays off. The day jobs they had were teaching and entry level banking at the time. They moved up the ranks in the day jobs and worked the side jobs as servers, construction work and odd jobs at the hotel aka housekeeping, front desk, maintenance.

    The tourism industry pays by tips. They make a lot of money! Some can make $500 a day in tips. Why is this crazy candidate so adamant about raising the government expenses?

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow…Mac and his followers must be getting worried judging by all the anti Mervin posts that have suddenly appeared.

      • Anonymous says:

        It isn’t personal to Mervin. It is about his poorly thought out opinions.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Johnny made the mistake of attacking Tara without having his facts in order , and man she floored him time after time with her fantastic counter punching. Tara was well prepared and revealed a lot of info that had not been given a lot of publicity. The woman has been working hard, hard.Next time John, listen to your own small voice and not that of Big Mac.

    • Anonymous says:

      JJJ needs to stay retired and is in way over his head. He is embarrassing himself and his family.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t like Tara but she is a better choice than the washed up retiree.

      Why weren’t all the candidates present? It would be good to hear from Laura Young and Burns Rankin. Though unless I looked this up on the CNS electoral map I had no idea Burns Rankin was even running. Who is he?!

      Laura Young, now she is making her statement and rallying herself out there. Is Burns still running?

      • Kara Rankine says:

        Burns is definitely still in the running, he has been doing his door-to-door campaigning in the community, having his political meetings and highlighting the areas in WBS that needs attention.

        I am yet to hear the reason he was not invited to attend the Debate as he was present at the Chamber’s Forum.

  5. Sovreignty belongs to the people says:

    Well salaries decrease because there is an increase in supply from work permits.

    • Anonymous says:

      Salaries can also decrease because the same position is no longer considered as valuable as it once was. Many occupations are going extinct now. The rise of the internet and the ability to DIY as there are many step by step videos available for free has enabled people to do more things on their own rather than hire.

      It is a cycle because once upon a time people were more self sufficient and tried to fix things on their own beforing hiring.

      As a woman I no longer call the plumber for little jobs when I can just YouTube it. Plus now I’ve figured some basic things out and realize how simple it is, I refuse to pay what I now consider high prices. A little knowledge goes a long way.

      Some people pay for the convenience of getting things repaired. However, if the demand of the service is no longer there, then the value of the service will decrease. Of course it doesn’t help that there is a significant supply of qualified individuals on island whether expat or local. However, once individuals are no longer needed on island shouldn’t they be sent home?

      Cayman also should not be a training ground for expats. I know of construction workers that came to Cayman with no idea what to do. They learnt everything in Cayman and are now contractors. Same with expats in the finance/law industry. They have no clue about Cayman laws or even basic corporate work. They are taught everything once they get here. That should not be allowed. No training sessions should be provided to anybody on a work permit no matter the company. If they need training, then a local could also get same said training and have the same knowledge/ability.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you meant “an increase in supply of desperate minimum wage workers”?!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians only have themselves to blame for the low wages.

    On Brac a certain so-called contractor helps pull all the work permits for a certain expat developer – hence you end up with labourers from third world countries working for a fraction of the price.

    But these workers would not be here if Caymanians did not help bring them in and hire them. End of story.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wages are based on supply and demand. If the supply of hard workers are more than the demand, then the salaries will decrease. Another factor is the value placed on the job position. Unless Mervin wants a communist country, lower skilled work will not pay as much as higher skilled work.

    I do not find this Mervin intelligent. I find him green and foolish. I find his ideas limited in depth. There are no real long term solutions provided.

    He sees someone hungry. Let’s give him a burger. Well, what about tomorrow? What then? Teach these people how to develop other skills. How to be a business owner. Other fields of work that will pay more. That working multiple jobs is not abnormal.

    Giving free money to people costs the general public. Adding a minimum wage to the construction sector will drive up housing costs. Someone has to pay for it.

    Be realistic Mervin. West bay people, really think about how you place your vote. He is not going to help put money in your pocket. He is finding ways to take it out.

    If you own your own business, you will make more than that $500 that he wants to freely give you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s a difficult choice for West Bayers. Mervin promises to give everyone working in the tourism sector a $500 “stipend” to add to their monthly salary. Big Mac/CDP/UDP gives them $500 per month for doing nothing, and says he wants to double that amount.

    Eeny meeny miny moe where do I want my wote to go……

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is one impressive young man. Wish I was a voter in his district to help him and other newcomers clean out the entrenched apostles.

    • Anonymous says:

      He will need more than your help, maybe he would have had a chance had he signed that petition regarding the improvements needed at the WB Primary School, that was sending our children to the hospital every day……When Sara asked him to his answer then was he couldn’t go against Tara and make his Goverment look bad. All this At the expense of our children. WB North VOTE FOR YOUR CHILDREN, and YOUR SCHOOLS (JCPS). Vote SARA all the way……she cares for our children and will never make the second to NO MINISTER OR PARTY

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m glad you aren’t able to vote for him. I do not want the residual costs of him Implementing this silly idea. Who wants the cost of building housing to go up?

      Who do you think is ultimately going to pay for that increase? $10 an hour is a lot! That means I have to pay more for a house that will be built. This sounds like what trump did with the cost of lumber from Canada to the US.

      Tara and her stupid idea about minimum wage. That $6 an hour only helped the gardeners and the helpers. All that did was cost the low wage Caymanians to pay more for someone on a work permit to clean their yard and take care of their children/elderly. Everybody knows no Caymanian is going to be a helper or caregiver. That raised the cost of living in Cayman.

      Mervin must already own his house and not ever worked in tourism. Probably doesn’t have children that will one day want to build a house.

      Mervin must not travel to other Caribbean countries or spoken to tourists. Cayman is extremely expensive and our product is declining in offering value for money. Why not focus on how to bring more tourists to the island.

      Change your small minded focus. Next thing you will want a bigger salary because you will be one of those giving individual people money every month instead of looking at the big picture.

      I thought these new candidates would go around with ideas on how to decrease the cost of living. Not increase them. I thought these new candidates would have ideas on how Caymanians on a whole will benefit from a thriving economy.

      Mervin, how about you focus on education because I think you need some.

      • Anonymous says:

        ” qoute
        Tara and her stupid idea about minimum wage. That $6 an hour only helped the gardeners and the helpers. All that did was cost the low wage Caymanians to pay more for someone on a work permit to clean their yard and take care of their children/elderly. Everybody knows no Caymanian is going to be a helper or caregiver. That raised the cost of living in Cayman.
        ” unquote

        God forbid a low paid Caymanian has to clean their own yard. What sort of entitled BS is that?

    • Stanley Hill says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more 7:45
      Mervin is smart and is moving up with the Cayman advancement.
      We cant have a country with so much wealth and pay a minimum wages of $6.00. That’s all BS about cost to consumer will go through the roof.
      There are many states in USA paying 15.00 minimum wages flipping burgers and frying potatoes and chicken, the prices for these fast foods have dropped, not increased. The problem with our people they are still in the dark and fail to get informed.

      • Anonymous says:

        The USA is also a bigger country with a larger population. The sheer volume of people will keep a company going.

        In a smaller society such as Cayman, the increase in expenses could cripple a business.

      • Anonymous says:

        Minimum wage and poorly paid jobs aren’t meant as career jobs. These are generally entry level jobs or student jobs or part time temporary seasonal jobs. They aren’t your final career aspiration. If after 20 years you are still working a job that pays minimum wage or previously $3 an hour you need to look at yourself as the problem, not the company or the govt.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The CDP candidate was poor and lethargic.