Chamber members impatient for labour reform

| 21/03/2016 | 3 Comments
CNS Business

Chamber of Commerce President Paul Pearson (right) and Past President Barry Bodden

(CNS Business): Immigration and labour reform have been identified by Chamber of Commerce members as two of the main issues for the business community, which is becoming impatient for change, according to the new Chamber President Paul Pearson. He also noted the slow introduction of online payment systems within government and said people were spending “countless hours paying bills at various government agencies, which wastes both time and money”. 

Labour reform has been the biggest area of contention between the Chamber and government of late, and Employment Minister Tara Rivers accused the previous Chamber Council, led by Barry Bodden, for failing to deliver on promises to help the government establish employment and training programmes.

However, Pearson told CNS Business that the Chamber had participated in numerous discussions and committees over the years to recommend ways to reform the immigration and labour system.

“As the economy improves, employers are finding it more challenging to secure local skilled staff to fill available and new positions,” he stated. “The business community is becoming impatient and wants to see real reform so that businesses are able to obtain the employees that are required to fill available positions.”

These employment vacancies have emerged with an overall improvement in the business environment, and positive growth reported both in financial services and tourism arrivals. Pearson said this was in addition to a number of construction projects that are either underway or in in the planning stage, right across Grand Cayman.

Highlighting key infrastructure projects such as the airport expansion and road improvements in George Town, plus the addition of the new hotel on Seven Mile Beach in November, Pearson said that new jobs are being created in Cayman and, from his perspective, small businesses are also gaining new customers and taking advantage of new opportunities for growth.

He says that the Chamber submitted a substantial list of observations on the consultation draft for the Labour Relations Bill in August 2015 and he felt it was positive that during a recent meeting, the minister said 90% of the Chamber’s observations were taken on board in some way.

“We are waiting to receive the revised and updated version of the bill so we can determine if we wish to submit any further comments,” he said.

As well as immigration and labour reform, the cost of doing business and workforce development were identified as the main challenges facing the business community in a recent survey of Chamber members.

Among the challenges faced by business on a daily basis, Pearson highlighted the growing concern about the number of hidden fees that are creeping into the system and the slow introduction of online payment systems for some government agencies and departments that would make doing business with government much easier, less time consuming and more efficient.

“Many businesses spend countless hours paying bills at various government agencies which wastes both time and money,” he said, adding that the increase in petty crime and robberies is also creating concern among members.

The key to achieving these goals, Pearson believes, is keeping channels of communication open and demonstrating that differences can be set aside when working towards the common good.  Part of this effort will include the Chamber establishing committees in key areas such as government relations, marketing and communications and membership development.

Despite his predecessor’s recent spat with the government, the new president described their working relationship as both positive and respectful. Plans are now in place for the Chamber to meet with the government quarterly to discuss issues and to develop solutions together, which is a “work in progress”, according to Pearson, who said he was confident that a great deal could be achieved through cooperation.

“We may not always agree on every issue, but we should always be able to discuss issues openly and frankly. It is our obligation to keep the elected government informed about the issues facing business and the community in general.”

He said the Chamber wants to be the catalyst for positive change in Cayman by connecting the community, the business sector and the government, with the twin aims of improving the quality of life and the local business environment.

The three year strategic plan, conceived at a recent strategy session, goes beyond a simple mission statement, Pearson said, and will include strategies to improve communications, community engagement, business development and membership.

“The Chamber Council, staff and membership want to work together to develop positive solutions,” he said.

One project that is currently underway is an economic growth initiative, aiming to educate and inform the community about the benefits and the process that leads to economic growth and how that translates into more jobs and a better quality of life for everyone.

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Category: Local Business

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Pearson we do not need more “jobs” just for “jobs” sake, the age old political slogan jobs, jobs, jobs slogan to fool the people.

    What we need is employment for the under employed qualified Caymanians, and persons in employment who earn enough to pay their way in a consumption based taxation system.

    The vast majority of your touted “jobs” just for “jobs” are low paying jobs with these low wage earners sending most of their earnings to another country, spending money in Cayman at sustenance level on goods and food that are mostly duty free. These persons in “jobs” just for “jobs” do not contribute to the long term growth of wealth in Cayman.

    How can you be asking for more “jobs” just for “jobs” when there are over 22,000 persons on work permits in a country with only about 18,000 Caymanians in the workforce. Total madness.

    Your desired policies is the reason for more and more crime, social unrest and a deteriorating quality of life for all, while the Super-Rich try to segregate themselves in their gated communities from the common folk.

    Present day Chamber members and Council must stop being so greedy, let Cayman absorb the massive changes that has come from too rapid over development, out of control development, out of control population growth, as identified by a Caymanian President in the 1990’s when she asked the question “Who are we developing for? It is surely no longer for most Caymanians”.

    What would a Cayman focused Chamber President with a vision for the future say today?

    • Anonymous says:

      Andre Mon Desir returns to CIMA

      His new work permit is in effect until 24 October, 2014.

      Justice Charles Quin welcomed Mr. Mon Desir back to Grand Cayman, saying it was a great pleasure to accede to the application. He referred to Mr. Mon Desir’s already distinguished career and predicted he would be a great asset to the monetary authority and the Cayman Islands.

      “I hope you are kept busy and enjoy your work,” the judge said.

      When will Caymanians receive such a warm welcome and work in Cayman?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said! The Chamber is a joke! Unfortunately, for the middle class and less financially secure people, the elites are the ones laughing.

      The Chamber works full-time to make sure that it has lobbying power so that the government accepts its proposals and the desired policies of rich business owners. The simple fact is that most Caymanians are consumers of products or services sold by Chamber members, and are not members themselves of the Chamber. Hence, the Chamber does not represent the majority of Caymanians.

      Yet, the Government still takes the Chamber seriously and the Chamber members work together to implement their policies in their businesses and promote it to employees. Caymanians are worthless to the elites. Think about it. A government agency provides the statistics you used in your post. Furthermore, the Immigration board and department allow permits to be issued and renewed.

      Ask yourself this question…..If these agencies and the Chamber are doing these things, why would they stop? Who votes for the Chamber President? Chamber members. The President and Chamber answers to its members. These people have a different mentality than you. They want to make more money. They see the world in terms of employees and money. Caymanians only fit in this equation because of the Immigration Law requirement.

      As you can see by the current President’s comments “As the economy improves, employers are finding it more challenging to secure local skilled staff to fill available and new positions,” he stated. “The business community is becoming impatient and wants to see real reform so that businesses are able to obtain the employees that are required to fill available positions.” the Chamber and business owners have no desire to hire or train Caymanians and they’re not afraid to push the government to further change the Immigration policy to allow even more work permits instead of respecting Caymanians and using them to work in their country. What does the Premier and most government officials worth the Chamber’s time do? Attend the Chamber luncheons and events and give speeches.

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