21 laid off at Boatswain’s Beach

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.

A press release states affected
employees have been given their notice period and severance pay as prescribed
by the labour law, including paid vacation and other benefits for the period.  However, in most instances those employees
will not be required to work during the notice period so that they may devote
their entire time to pursue new opportunities. 

Management is
also extending the option for the employees to continue on the company’s group
health insurance for up to 3 months.

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

Boatswain-Beach1705

The Boatswain’s Beach tourism attraction in West Bay houses one of the largest turtle breeding facilities in the world.
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