Bodden fires parting shots at government

| 01/02/2016 | 7 Comments
CNS Business

Immediate Past President of the Chamber of Commerce, Barry Bodden

(CNS Business): The departing president of the Chamber of Commerce took aim at the employment minister and the premier in his parting address last week. Barry Bodden, who had completed twelve months as the business body’s leader, criticised Tara Rivers’ failure to engage with the Chamber over the labour bill, the failure of the NWDA to list the registered unemployed and the premier over his comments about Chamber members not taking on locals who need training and for not talking to them about the Ready2WorkKY initiative.

Highlighting the widening gap between the government’s view of the causes of rising local unemployment and the private sector’s position, Bodden made it clear that employers should not have to take on local workers who are not an exact fit. He claimed the private sector was willing to assist but the focus should be on education, training and increasing the skills of the local workforce instead of government “asking the business community to lower their hiring standards and take on additional costs”.

He said the Chamber has been urging government to address the issue of youth unemployment and the training needed, which he said was a national priority. All unemployed workers should be required to register with the National Workforce Development Agency, where they can be assessed and helped with the necessary training, he said, adding that it was “unacceptable” that there was not an “accurate list of registered unemployed persons who have been assessed to determine their skills level and readiness for work”.

Bodden said that he and CEO Wil Pineau had met with Premier Alden McLaughlin, the deputy premier and the senior policy advisor in late October to discuss the challenges of unemployment.

“Despite what we felt was a productive meeting, the premier decided to cast blame on the business community for not doing enough to address the unemployment situation and called on businesses to be more willing to take on Caymanians who don’t meet precisely all of their employment requirements and train them,” the outgoing president stated.

He said the “blame game” does nothing to resolve the complex national problem, noting that the Chamber had not been consulted on the proposed Ready2WorkKY initiative, due to start shortly. However, he said the organisation was willing to be involved. “We call upon the government to create a true partnership with the Chamber and the private sector so we can truly address this issue once and for all.”

The former Chamber president also revealed that, once again, the organisation is opposing efforts by government to change the labour law and attempt to rebalance legislation that many believe favours employers over workers.

Bodden said the Chamber had submitted an extensive list of recommendations about the new law and had appealed to Minister Rivers to discuss them to reach a reasonable compromise that worked for both employers and employees. “To date, there has been no attempt by the minister to engage with the Chamber, even though the bill has been presented to the caucus for consideration.

“As the most representative voice for the business community, we call upon the minister to consult with us before taking any amended bill to the Legislative Assembly,” Bodden urged. “Many small businesses are already struggling to survive. It would be disastrous if the new bill creates additional expense and paperwork at a time when many businesses will have to cope with the introduction of a minimum wage and the new requirements of the Trade and Business Licensing Law,” he added.

New Chamber boss berates job protectionism

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Category: Employment, Local Business

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe the Chamber, immigration department and the NWDA need to actually do more to solve the labour issues. Why is it consistently so difficult to do. this football has been kicked around for too long. Government ministers need to stop lunching with private sector and promising them work permits even before thorough research is done to ascertain if there is a local person available. Government ministers need to read the ads that are placed daily, then compare it to the work permit application form that show up at immigration. The only thing ready- fit on this island is how the ad and the application forms are identical. If I didn’t know better I would wonder how they manage to get an application with exactly all the qualities listed in the ad previously. I am unemployed , hire me to go through and compare and collate the info for you if you are too busy.

  2. Conscience says:

    This what happens when you put boys yo do a mans job and when the boys still wet behind the ears, are not able to discern their foot from their mouth..

  3. Pressure Treated 2x4 says:

    The NWDA isn’t functional, we all know that Barry. BUT in typical Chamber rhetoric, your entity always is on the blame game field. By the way, has your successor done all that he can do to ensure that Caymanians are hired on his projects.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Chamber should tell the Premier to come back to them when he make the Civil Service and Government owned companies lead by example. The Civil Service takes on my expats than the private sector do. The end for some of them is drawing near. Many on them can start clearing their desks from now in preparation for what is to come following the next general elections. My advice is to start from Top down.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Chamber needs to prioritize what is important for the Caymanian people, not just the investors who come just to make money.

    The Chamber supported government with the Caymanian damaging Immigration Law changes – shame on both the Chamber and Government.

    Chamber members are addicted to cheap labour, that causes many, many problems with crime and social unrest, we will all loose because of this addiction.

    Who are we developing for?

    Who should it be for?

    The investor Billionaires or Caymanians?

    • Anonymous says:

      Who provides the capital for the businesses that will employ these Caymanians? Communism did not work too well in the past.

  5. Anonymous says:

    well said barry…but maybe too little too late….the chamber president needs to be oiutspoken during his time in charge….

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