Chamber fumes quietly over Rivers’ comments

| 10/02/2016 | 19 Comments
CNS Business

Employment Minister Tara Rivers at a Chamber of Commerce event

(CNS Business): Stuck between a desire to rail against criticisms levelled at it by the employment minister and a wish to show its willingness to cooperate with government, the Chamber of Commerce responded with a short public statement Tuesday. “In order to keep the focus on moving forward, the Chamber will state only that it is concerned by the public statement by the Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister for Education, Employment and Gender Affairs released on Friday,” the organisation said.

Appearing keen to defuse the tension with government, the Chamber said that after a successful recent meeting with government officials, its newly elected president, Paul Pearson, would be serving on the premier’s task force to develop the Ready2Work KY initiative.

“The Chamber will not respond to the other statements of the minister except to highlight that over the past 50 years the Chamber has worked with every elected government to introduce business, education, workplace and community based initiatives to improve the business environment and quality of life for its members and the wider community,” the release said.

Confirming the organisation’s willingness to work with the minister and the government to address the collective challenges, the Chamber said that it may occasionally disagree with specific actions or proposals of any government but that disagreement is never politically motivated.

“All responses from the Chamber are informed by the expertise and experience of its members, local business owners that are invested in the success of Cayman,” the pro-business lobby said. “The president and the CEO speak for the organisation and communicate policy positions as determined by the elected Council after consultation with the membership through surveys, reports, general meetings, committee work and discussions.”

During the last few months the premier has been critical of the Chamber’s apparent unwillingness to address what some see as growing reluctance on the part of local businesses to train and employ Caymanians, instead opting for cheaper overseas labour instead.

But after an escalation in the war of words, there were signs of a more cooperative relationship until Rivers hit out at the leadership, say that if the Chamber failed to live up to promises and commitments, she would work directly with members of the private sector.

A key bone of contention between the minister and the Chamber is the proposed labour law. For decades the Chamber has opposed any rebalancing of legislation that would hand greater protection to workers. Although the business organisation claims that its membership includes hundreds of employees,  its lobbying tilts heavily towards employers’ needs and it has in the past blocked efforts to introduce a minimum wage and the passage of any significant amendments to the law in favour of the employees.

The Chamber has again raised numerous objections to the latest proposals to amend the legislation, which was introduced by Rivers. Its claims that government was not taking into consideration their submissions that triggered another row with the employment minister, who said that government had not only considered them but many were being adopted.

In this latest statement, the Chamber said it spent considerable time and resources on the response to the draft bill but it was only last week that it learned many of its recommendations had been included.

“While the Chamber is encouraged by this development, it is unfortunate that following a positive meeting with members of the government caucus that the minister feels it necessary to issue such a negative statement,” the Chamber added, as it drew back from another fight.

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Category: Employment, Local Business

Comments (19)

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  1. Sam the Weaver says:

    The lack of industrialization of the indigenous workforce has created a huge void in the culture which tends to manifest as disenfranchisement among the locals.
    I propose a genuine movement towards the recombination of our traditional values with modern trends.
    Perhaps then we will see a lot more of our politicians making sense instead of all the garbage we hear. What do you think?

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ll tell you what is garbage. Your post. It is gibberish. You must be a big fan of Dr Frank.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “The Chamber said that it may occasionally disagree with specific actions or proposals of any government but that disagreement is never politically motivated”. Good grief, you expect us to believe that the Chamber is in no way politically motivated…. please pull the other one 🙂 🙂 🙂 !

  3. Anonymous says:

    You all still believe that Tara Rivers made it all up.? As antagonistic as The new Chamber President ‘s statement was do you really think he would smooth it all over as it appears he has done without having the last word. perhaps he knew that she was telling the truth all along and is now afraid of having to admit it. The Premier sold us out with the Teleps, then he made us all feel insignificant and like beggars by agreeing to pay employers to hire our people while no doubt the work permits for all category will continue to roll out, now he has handed this so call job initiative over to the Chamber and others who own and operate employment agencies and whose members don’t want to hire us. Tell me exactly what type of results he expects to gain by his actions? What response does he expects to get from the Cayman voters come 2017?
    I know he is “sure of himself” but surely he cannot be that daft!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The 700 who showed up for Christmas part time wages shows we need a living wage- it was sad to see the other 700 blue collar expat workers sending their western union cash overseas as our own could and should live on CI$8 per hour, that is not going to kill any greedy local businessman! The NWDA offer $5 per hr cannot pay West Bay rent even?
    Living wage is the way forward
    Min wage $8 per hr and see unemployment drop 50%

    • Anonymous says:

      You’ll just raise the cost of living as the costs will be passed onto the consumer. You obviously don’t own a business as the govt fees, insurance and pension, rent, cuc and water cost a lot on top of salaries. Whatever profit there is at the end is scrappings.

      The large business owners have it easier than the smaller and startups. Try opening s business and you will change your tune.

  5. Anonymous says:

    chamber should call for her resignation…….

    • Anonymous says:

      They can largely ignore her. She will be out of a job come 2017.

      • Anonymous says:

        But collect MLA pension for life….for what?

        • Anonymous says:

          Can we somehow change the law for politicians that have only served one term. This should include all historical politicians. Has anyone calculated the amount of money is bleeding from the government for this nonsense.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I believe the reason for the toning down is a direct result of the incoming President, Mr Paul Pearson’s antagonistic statement, issued within minutes of his election to that post. Mr Pearson ,in his first speech as President showed exactly how powerful the Chamber of Commerce feels when he stated that the Chamber ” membership will not support any kind of limit on permits”. I guess the plan is that they will operate outside the law, how else would you ignore the law of the land.

    • Anonymous says:

      Last time I checked the Chamber does not issue work permits, so how can it be operating outside the law?

      • Anonymous says:

        @ 11:49 am. That is exactly the point; at present the Chamber does not issue work permits. However if limits are put in place by Government but ignored by the Chamber of Commerce, then the Chamber members plan must be to start issuing their own , or ignore the need for permits and hire workers illegally. Anyway you put it that is some pretty arrogant and illegal stuff.

  7. Anonymous says:

    @ 2:46pm That i exactly the attitude of the Chamber ,hence the Minister was right.

  8. Anonymous says:

    or appease businesses that appear to think that they are entitled to the cheapest labour the earth will provide, without regard to the effects that has on this small country. Hell, every Caymanian would be unemployed if some of the less scrupulous chamber members had their way.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The Chamber opposed minimum wage you say? Strange, their official position paper (which you could easily find via google) says they support it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Local businesses are already having to carry too much dead-weight to appease politicians who think that an economy is a zero sum game.

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