All nine Cayman Islands
lawmakers who were present voted to support a private member’s motion
calling for the formation of a committee to consider whether any local jobs
should be designated as ‘Caymanian only’ by government.
The motion was introduced
last week in the Legislative Assembly by George Town MLA Ellio Solomon and
debate on it concluded Wednesday.
Mr. Solomon told
lawmakers that the motion itself was merely a proposal for the government to
consider, but he felt that it was necessary to debate “just to make sure we are
providing opportunities for our people”.
“This is not about
foreigners vs. locals, furthest from it,” Mr. Solomon said, adding that any
committee government appointed might come back with no recommendations at all to
support making any jobs available only to Caymanians.
The only positions in the
country officially designated as ‘Caymanian only’ are those held by the 15
elected legislators, and the appointed deputy governor’s post.
“Are those the only
positions that should be Caymanian only?” Mr. Solomon asked previously when
introducing the motion.
Premier McKeeva Bush, a
long-time opponent of what he referred to Wednesday as ‘over-nationalism’,
thanked Mr. Solomon for bringing the motion and noted the proposal was indeed
worthy of further discussion.
“This whole matter of
training of Caymanians has dogged every government,” Mr. Bush said, recalling
the legislative battles he took part in during the 1980’s that eventually led to
the introduction of Cayman’s Labour Law.
“Lest people think that
we have done nothing, they should really check what we have done,” the premier
said, regarding training and education of the local workforce which the
establishment of bygone days “did not support”.
“We still have not
succeeded, but we have come a long way.”
Despite his kind words to
Mr. Solomon, Mr. Bush warned against Caymanian “feelings of entitlement” that he
said appeared to have grown over the years, particularly in recent times as the
economy has worsened.
“We can’t continue to
build up the expectations if they can’t be reached,” he said.
Mr. Bush said the biggest
obstacle to Caymanian advancement in the short term was the country’s economy.
He added that Cayman’s failing immigration policies need to be addressed as part
of the plan to jump-start economic development efforts.
Please see more on this
story in future editions of the Caymanian Compass…