21 laid off at Boatswain’s

Boatswain’s Beach/Cayman Turtle Farm
Managing Director Tim Adam confirmed Thursday that the government-owned tourism
attraction is in the midst of downsizing its staff due to current operating
losses.

Mr. Adam would not specify the number of workers
affected or how many Caymanians were involved, however the Caymanian Compass has learned that 21 jobs will be cut.

The turtle farm had 108 employees before the layoffs began.  

The staff cuts are to take effect
immediately. The process of notifying workers began Wednesday.

“I’d rather have the chance to talk
to all the individuals affected before we specify the numbers,” said Mr. Adam.

“When I joined the farm one of my
responsibilities was to work with the board to design and implement cost-saving
measures, including streamlining and finding efficiencies,” he said.

Cutbacks at Boatswain’s have
so far included raising turtle meat prices and exploring other revenue streams,
including the sale of turtle shells.

When the meat price hikes were
announced in early February, Turtle Farm Board Chairman Ken Hydes said
that the board would be making many difficult decisions
about operations at the tourism attraction.  

“I can assure the public that these
decisions are being made with the long-term best interest of the shareholders,
the Caymanian people,” Mr. Hydes said at that time.

“This is the reason the board felt
it was essential to bring in someone with Tim’s experience and capabilities.  We
are extremely confident that he is the right man to turn things around at
Boatswains Beach and he has the full support of the board and senior management
team.”

Mr. Adam said deciding on the job
cuts was “agonising”.

“But after initiating many
cost-saving efficiencies there was a need to further reduce costs,” he
said.”We had to look at our personnel
costs.”

Mr. Adam said affected staff are
being provided with packages to assist them with finding new employment,
reference letters, and support from the Turtle Farm, including
counselling.

“We have already notified the
Department of Employment Relations and they will also be assisting those
affected,” said Mr. Adam.

At one point, the Boatswain’s Beach facility was losing up to $500,000 per month on its operating costs. In recent years, those costs have been reduced, but the facility is still losing money. 

Government has poured more than $20 million into tourism attraction to make up its operating losses since 2004, not including loans it has made to the facility. 

Chairman of the Boatswain’s Beach board of directors, Kenneth
Hydes, said last year the tourist attraction had received $12.7 million in
borrowings and government subsidies.

“At the close of this financial year [30
June], it will be something like $9.5 million. That has come about due to
maximising efficiencies and reducing operating costs, but obviously it left us
in a position where the human capital had to be looked at.”

Compass journalist Norma Connolly contributed to this report…. 

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