Officials meet with former Divi employees

Some 40 employees of the defunct Divi Tiara Beach Resort, which closed its doors 8 September, told Cabinet Ministers, Sister Islands elected representatives and a team of Cayman Islands Government key civil servants last Friday that they were satisfied with government’s efforts to resolve the uncertainty facing them following the sudden closure of the hotel.

The exchange was the focus of a government-initiated meeting at the Aston Rutty Centre in Cayman Brac, said a GIS press release.

The meeting was aimed at bringing positive resolutions for former Divi Tiara employees now faced with the sudden prospect of finding new jobs or making career or other major changes in their lives.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, who was accompanied by Tourism Minister Charles Clifford, said that the first order of business was to ensure that the former Divi staff received their severance package, including any outstanding wages.

Divi General Manager Max Hillier said that he anticipated that this would be finalized within two weeks. Government’s insurance and pensions officers were also on hand to assist workers with regard to benefits.

While that process is in train, the Government’s Department of Employment Relations’ personnel are working to assist the unemployed workers to find new jobs.

This included prospects at the Brac Reef Resort and the Little Cayman Beach Resort. Very few of the workers wished to relocate to Grand Cayman, the release said.

The Leader of Government Business also spoke to the concern that the principles of the hotel make good on any debts owed to the local business community.

Meanwhile, Government will be initiating dialogue with the principles to determine what options they were considering with regard to the future of the structure.

Mr. Tibbetts said that he would do everything possible to facilitate the best possible outcome and would definitely not be countenancing, he said, the prospect of the building being left to become a public eyesore.

In tandem with these initiatives, Minister Clifford said that the Department of Tourism was at work ensuring that tourists with pre-booked packages were assisted to arrive at satisfactory alternate arrangements at other facilities in the Cayman Islands or at Divi Resorts elsewhere.

Mr. Hillier noted that the hotel had already successfully diverted to the Brac Reef Resort and to the Little Cayman Beach Resort all group packages for the remainder of 2006.

Former Divi cook Clifford Gibson, resident in Cayman Brac for some 18 years, said at the end of the meeting: ‘I came expecting a bunch of rhetoric – but I was greatly disappointed. Mr. Tibbetts sounded quite forceful. Something will be done.’

Commenting after the meeting, Mr. Tibbetts said that he was ‘extremely happy to have brought the team from Grand Cayman’ and that he was particularly pleased that every one of the former employers on island attended.

Acting District Commissioner for the Sister Islands Ernie Scott thanked the officials for coming and the employees for turning out for the meeting.

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