Chamber tells CIG to stop blaming business for social ills

| 27/10/2015 | 10 Comments

CNS Business(CNS Business): The Chamber of Commerce has denied that the business community has easy access to work-permits. In response to comments made by Community Affairs Minister Osbourne Bodden in the Legislative Assembly last week, the Chamber’s executive council has taken aim at local politicians, stating, “It’s time respected members of government stopped blaming business owners for the social ills that successive governments have failed to prevent.”

The Chamber did, however, agree with other comments made by the minister that the system needs overhauling.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the body representing local businesses said it “wholeheartedly supports the minister’s call for root and branch reform of the immigration process”. The executive council said the business staffing plan system, like the process for obtaining a work permit in general, was “confusing, onerous, and time consuming” and had not achieved its intended purpose.

“The experience of our members is that the immigration boards will grant a work permit only after an employer has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that no suitably-qualified Caymanian can be found,” the Chamber said, taking a position that many local people seeking work will likely disagree with and one that several politicians also refuted during the same debate.

Bodden was discussing the growing social deprivation and economic challenges faced by many families in Cayman, illustrated by the 6,000 plus people being assisted annually by the Needs Assessment Unit, for which he has responsibility. The debate was in response to a motion brought by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush asking government to create an emergency fund to help families in the worst case scenarios save their homes from foreclosure and forced sales. The community affairs minister, like many of the MLAs who took part in the debate, described what they believed were the underlying causes of the increase in social problems among the local population, including under- and unemployment, especially in the face of some 22,000 work permits.

Nevertheless, the Chamber claimed that most employers apply for permits only as a last resort.

“Given the high cost, uncertainty and delay, the vast majority of employers consider a work permit application a last resort after exhausting all possible avenues to hire a Caymanian,” the Chamber stated. “While the immigration system must guarantee Caymanians access to every available job opportunity, it must also guarantee employers a suitably-qualified Caymanian or, failing that, a work permit for a suitably-qualified expatriate. The Chamber of Commerce stands willing and able to assist the government in developing a system that is both expeditious and fair to all stakeholders concerned.”

The Chamber said the “wholesale denial or frustration of work permits” would cause further contractions in the economy, which in the end would put more Caymanians out of work.

“Failing companies do not equate to job opportunities for Caymanians nor success for Caymanian business owners,” the Council, noting that with 20,000 more jobs than local people, it was unrealistic for every job to go to a Caymanian.

“It is disingenuous to portray every work permit issued as a Caymanian job lost,” the Chamber added, as it condemned discrimination against Caymanian workers but rejected the notion that the private sector is systematically biased.

“The private sector would not employ 13,000 working Caymanians if local employers were predisposed to not hiring them. Caymanians who have suffered discrimination must have an effective avenue to pursue their claims and to seek redress. Businesses must be entitled to due process of law to defend themselves against any such accusation. The current system provides neither,” the Chamber said, adding that the current system created “resentment, innuendo and conspiracy theories”, which sow division.

“The Chamber agrees that businesses have a moral obligation to support the community. However, we believe that creating 13,000 jobs for Caymanians, directly paying or generating hundreds of millions of dollars in government revenue, and unwavering support for all manner of local charities is ample evidence that local business owners already take this obligation seriously,”  it said.

Taking aim at politicians for blaming business for the socio-economic problems facing people, the Chamber asked government to  “move away from the blame game” and work to facilitate economic growth “rather than standing in its way”.

Calling for a national dialogue on immigration and employment issues, the Chamber said it was ready to work with government to increase prosperity for all Caymanians.

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Category: Employment, Local Business

Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a load of nonsense,every chamber member NEEDS to hire one Caymanian whether good or bad and train them. It is your duty to get Caymanians working and off the tit. We need to get people working instead of creating a welfare state. No excuse,it will be good all around socially, economically and criminally safer. How can people work over time and not get paid?
    I went into a customers wholesale store and they wanted me to take a 50 lb bag of dog food out of the shopping cart and put it in their checkout counter so the could scan it. What ,,you all can buy a hand scanner and scan it in the shopping cart? When I asked the cashier , the little girl said its company policy. Cheapness, buy a scanner. Be fair to your employees and you will see the attitude dissolve .

  2. Anonymous says:

    Leave Out De General Exceptions. More nonsense that means nothing, solves nothing and confuses everyday working folk. I hate wasting 30 mins of my day reading about these ridiculous stories and I only gain solace in the fact that it took the Chamber more than a week to come up with the press release. We all know that absolutely nothing will be done by the Minister or the Chamber. These are empty platitudes. Does anyone really believe the BS any more?

  3. Anonymous says:

    A national dialogue on immigration and employment issues would be moot without also including substantial debate on the reform of the education system to prepare Caymanians for the working world both in Cayman and beyond,

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree. You hear a lot of talk about people “wanting” job but little about what they are doing to get “qualified”. No employer would spend $10k-$30k on a work permit IF there was a qualified Caymanian!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        My friend even then there is a problem. There is too much thinking round here that to hold a piece of paper (qualification) equates to being able to do the job. I am shortly to retire but in my lifetime I have lost count of the people who are highly qualified and studious but just cannot get their heads around how to do the job in practice, repeatedly making the kind of mistakes that could potentially lead to a negligence case against their employers despite all manner of training and coaching.

        People must learn that this piece of paper does not entitle them to automatically enter the job market in the positions they aspire to. Fact is, many of us started in the post room/repographics and worked our way up even if we have first class honours degree.

        Then there are those who have the paper but have no idea how to communicate with colleagues, clients or difficult clients. Another liability in the workplace.

        These people I speak of are not Caymanian, they exist all over the world, but the difference is in Cayman this attitude is encouraged rather than expectations managed.

  4. Union Advocate says:

    Time for unions to balance the power of the Chambers members.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please tell me that you are joking. If that is really your plan, we should all move.

    • Owl says:

      So the Chamber is now acting like they are now concerned about Caymanians who I think they refer to as minority, what a pitiful state of affirs we are in with this condescending Chamber of Commerce. Why relicense these guys they are not serving the betterment of the country at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      While I am not thrilled with unions I have reluctantly concluded that they are needed here as the exploitation of work permit holders, particularly in the construction industry is shameful. No pay for working overtime on weekdays and weekends, Cayman employers delaying payment of earned wages, threats of work permit cancellation for complaining, etc.

      An institution has to assist these exploited workers who have no rights and the CIG won’t stand up for them. Who will stand up for these workers?

  5. Anonymous says:

    How many Caymanians does the president employ?

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