Editorial for July 8: Shift needed in rollover policy

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin’s suggestion to eliminate a seven-year term limit on foreign workers’ residence in the Cayman Islands received much support in the latest www.caycompass.com online poll.

Of the 494 people who took the poll, 57.9 per cent said the rollover should be totally eliminated; 17 per cent said leave it as it is; 16.2 per cent said keep the policy, but relax the seven year limit on foreign workers’ residence; and 6.3 per cent said keep the rollover but reduce the seven year term limit.

Term limits on foreign workers’ residence became law on 1 January, 2004, under the United Democratic Party government. The People’s Progressive Movement had an opportunity to toss the rollover policy when it came into power in 2005, but made clear at that time that rollover would not be abandoned.

A sceptic could say that the PPM’s previous views might cast doubt on its leader’s current pronouncements. Time will tell whether Mr. McLaughlin truly has the courage of his convictions or if he is just fishing for votes.

Mr. McLaughlin proposes that every foreign worker who stays here eight years consecutively becomes eligible to apply for permanent residence. They would have to apply for it before their 10th year on Island. People would still have to qualify for permanent residence under the ‘100 point system’, but the requirement for companies to apply for workers’ key employee status would be eliminated.

It is clear that the rollover policy has failed to protect Caymanian jobs. it is also clear that Cayman’s economy has suffered during the implementation of this policy.

However, Cayman must take steps to ensure that only the right kind of expat is allowed to remain in the country and that jobs are available to Caymanians first.

Mr. McLaughlin’s proposal may or may not fix all these problems. But the current system obviously isn’t working.

 Maybe its time to try something else?

15 COMMENTS

  1. However, Cayman must take steps to ensure that only the right kind of expat is allowed to remain in the country and that jobs are available to Caymanians first.

    Mr. McLaughlin’s proposal may or may not fix all these problems. But the current system obviously isn’t working.

    Very wise words, indeed Caycompass!

    In the necessary re-balancing of any conutry’s economic and social structure, necessary changes are a painful process and is usually forced upon a country’s leaders.

    The fallout of the worldwide recession has forced a new look at the Cayman Islands’ working systems and might trigger necessary changes that will ultimately work out for the better in the long-term.

    In reading some of your editorials, I get a sense of dejavu; is our beloved and departed Desmond Seales looking over your shoulders and guiding your editorial pen at times ? LOL

    His was the lone voice crying out in the wilderness saying some of the hard truths that no one wanted to acknowledge then but his words are now coming to pass…

    And situations developing, just as he and others predicted, they would.

    The stats that shows that the CI Government is now less dependent on WP fess is a key indicator and sign that now is the perfect time to look at other methods of restructuring Cayman’s immigration/labour systems…

    And begin to plan a model that will serve the country well into its new era and for future generations.

    Our suggestions are well on record and I have to say thanks and appreciation for what Caycompass is doing to aid the process along.

    Our Desmond must be smiling. from wherever he is;RIP Mr. Seales…

    Gone from us but never to be forgotten.

    Maybe its time to try something else?

  2. Alden is just fishing, I mean simply fishing.He is desperate to wear that premier mantel and he will say anything that comes to his mouth.

    Take it with a grain of salt. Nothing to it, Firey, don’t for one minute believe the polls, if the polls on this issue of rollover policy to be eliminated is high 57% trust me that 57% poll vote came from X-PATS!
    The people who’s vote matters grass roots Caymanians at almost 100% against removing the rollover, those numbers are much higher. Removing the rollover policy will destroy all chances of Caymanians success and advancement in their own homeland. Alden McLaughlin should be ashamed of himself. He in desperation will say anything, Firey, Alden is at it again on his political band stand. He’s just fishing for votes, nothing else.

    He’s no better than McKeeva Bush, they’re all power hungry and will do anything and say anything just to gain power.

  3. For Dubai, I’ve read a lot of your comments and it seems that you for the most part seem to be AntiExpat. Please help me to understand your dislike for expats. Are you saying that the current financial crisis has nothing to do the fact that so many expats have and are leaving the island. You mention that removing the rollover policy will destroy Caymanians chances for success in their own homeland, why do you feel that way that Caymanians are not able to compete with Expats.

    Can you describe how you think the Island would be without expats ?

    I do agree with you however that Alden is just fishing for Votes and he’s desperate to be in power, his day to day actions prove that, I’m he will eventually be saying that the UPD is completely to blame for the introduction of the Roll Over Policy.

  4. NJ2Cay

    I am not at all against X-pats. I support the hiring of X-pats where needed. It so happens that this present government has been gong ho about granting numerous work permits for positions that our own Caymanians have been duly qualified to fill all in the name of seeking the X-pat vote and generating revenue. They have sold Caymanians and thrown them under the bus. The old sour argument that Caymanians are laszy and unqualified is nothing more than a Pirate Pitch to pursue overtake and take all! Caymanians are faced with applying for jobs on a daily basis 365 days a year and being refused a position why? because now X-pats on their own have decided to keep the jobs for themselves. Yes their son, their husband blue, their daughter sue, these 4 and no more! The fact they complain every day about not making enough money raises suspicion that maybe these are not the most qualified people in the world since they didn’t seem to acquire employment in their own homeland. So this rules out the validity of the argument that Caymanians are lazy because they are not, and further rules out the big lie that they are not qualified, because they are very qualified to fill positions that employers advertise positions for by deception. Not presenting the true picture, of the position nor job description. We are hip to what is going on. The days are here where people are standing up and not taking this nonsense anymore. If it means ousting the PPM and the UDP Cayman needs candidates in 2013 that have the interest of the Caymanian people at heart and not sell them out for the almighty dollar.

  5. NJ2Cay

    I am not at all against X-pats. I support the hiring of X-pats where needed. It so happens that this present government has been gong ho about granting numerous work permits for positions that our own Caymanians have been duly qualified to fill all in the name of seeking the X-pat vote and generating revenue. They have sold Caymanians and thrown them under the bus. The old sour argument that Caymanians are laszy and unqualified is nothing more than a Pirate Pitch to pursue overtake and take all! Caymanians are faced with applying for jobs on a daily basis 365 days a year and being refused a position why? because now X-pats on their own have decided to keep the jobs for themselves. Yes their son, their husband blue, their daughter sue, these 4 and no more! The fact they complain every day about not making enough money raises suspicion that maybe these are not the most qualified people in the world since they didn’t seem to acquire employment in their own homeland. So this rules out the validity of the argument that Caymanians are lazy because they are not, and further rules out the big lie that they are not qualified, because they are very qualified to fill positions that employers advertise positions for by deception. Not presenting the true picture, of the position nor job description. We are hip to what is going on. The days are here where people are standing up and not taking this nonsense anymore. If it means ousting the PPM and the UDP Cayman needs candidates in 2013 that have the interest of the Caymanian people at heart and not sell them out for the almighty dollar.

  6. Dubai, Thanks for clarifying my thoughts. While I can understand that it benefits the CIG because of the fees. But I can’t understand why any company would hire an expat over a like skilled Caymanian when they would have to pay a huge fee to the CIG. I know I wouldn’t especially for jobs that basically anyone could be trained to do. If this is happening what is your theory as to why?

    As I am not completely knowledgeable of the current Cayman workforce I need to ask, Are there expats filling jobs like Cleaning People, Landscapers, Drivers and Receptionists ? I could understand expats filling jobs that require Degrees, Specific Training or Experience that may be hard to find locally. But on the other hand I would think that any young person coming out of UCCI with a degree in any field within the Financial or Legal industry would have a job rather quickly even if it meant they be replacing an expat. Because it would surely be better for the Company to hire locally. Is this not the case ?

    Also, regarding your comment about seeking the expat vote, please correct me if I’m wrong but I thought expats couldn’t vote.

  7. You’re missing the point NJ2Cay. Caymanians, particularly the young people, have no interest in working as cleaning people, drivers, or landscapers (or as divemasters).

    Receptionist work would be ok if it was an air-conditioned office, but most employers learned a long time ago how bad of an idea that is.

  8. CJ2Cay.clarifying seeking the X-pat vote. Well as you may or may not be aware there were 3,000 status grants. People always want more. Those 3-4,000 new status holders of 2004 now are demanding status grants for their friends and extended families. That is the true picture.People shouldn’t jump into these conversations unless they speak of the true picture. This highly threatens the livelihood of our people since both sides are taking advantage of the work permit mill situation. Both government, the businesses and guest worker.As a result if the rollover policy is removed, those guest workers who are indeed x-pats will be eligible for Cayman Status.There are very nice x=pats amongst us, some missionaries, pastors, teachers, etc. we can not deny that. But that is not to license government and employers to invite the whole world scaring our people to death in this little place, its not fare and there’s not enough to go around. Caymanians are not being dealt a fair hand and you know it.This is not fair to the Caymanian people, the country is far too small to accommodate that magnitude of immigration with such a sudden surge and fast pace. Locals are still experiencing culture shock from the 2005 status grants, it is to be expected. This is not a prejudicial statement. It is a an account of the facts that the situation created by the C.Is government has made it impossible for Caymanians to acaqire employment. It has nothing to do with their qualifications. As you mentioned earlier about the person with a degree, well Caymanians educated overseas and at UCCI are seeking positions that require a degree and they are still refused because they are Caymanian the employer is in cahoots with government purchasing work permits from the board that is granting them way too fast and keeping Caymanians out of the work place. Its all about money.
    Absolutely nothing to do with qualifications or laziness.
    Caymanians are educated and smart and always willing to work. Never have been lazy. You x-pats introduced that word in our society where it never existed before and it has caused resentment against you. You should cease from such language.
    Since government has opened up to homegrown and off shore piratism they have written a new song that our people are lazy but it is all a big lie because they are romancing each other in this unscrupulous scheme against our people. It is even worst under the present UDP Now the PPM Alden ‘s government who seems determined to destroy this country by removing the rollover and inciting more status grants. it is a disgrace and a scam.

  9. Old Diver,
    you have missed the most valid points of Dubai’s explanation. She didn’t even mention the more menial jobs. The problem is that from a cleaners job to the office manager to the executive, Caymanians have applied for those and have been duly qualified to fill, BUT have been refused.
    Its not at all about paying a huge work permit fee anymore that is quite OK with employers, so long as they can keep a Caymanian out of the work place who will report them for their abusive acts against staff. Caymanians do not put up with crap. As Dubai said earlier in so many words its a win win situation for government and the employers, but it is a LOSING situation for Caymanians seeking employment. The other side of the coin is that if the employer is an x-pat his prejudiced attitude which sometimes all too often is mixed with racial or national prejudice against the local person does not allow him to hire Caymanians either. It is a very ugly situation.
    true facts can not be debated. Sorry.
    This is not an opinion., I agree with Dubai, it is a fact.The door is closed on Caymanians and open to X-pats for THE WRONG CORRUPT REASONS

  10. Dubai let me first clear one thing up. You referred to me as ‘ You Expats’. Although I spend a lot time on the island, I do not hold or ever have held a Job in Cayman nor do I own a business in Cayman. I am just trying to better understand the dissention between Expats and Caymanians that I’ve read about so much. Question about the businesses being in cahoots with the government on the work permit situation. Are you saying that the government is giving them some type of incentive to hire expats or Caymanians?

    Also is there some type of office that Monitors the hiring practices of businesses that refuse to employ Caymanians? if not this would be good thing to lobby for. I read in another article that the high schools in Cayman have about 90% Expat teachers. Being that the schools fall under the CIG is it true that they would not pay a work permit fee for these expat teachers? Are they doing the same type of things as the businesses to keep qualified Caymanians out of teaching positions ?

  11. Heaven forbid a Caymanian gets refused for a job! Because EVERYONE knows that when you apply for a job, that means you automatically get it. Do you really listen to yourself sometimes?

    Perhaps, that person wasn’t the right fit?

  12. Bigberd – no-one sanely suggests anyone is entitled to a job, even if they are Caymanian. However, thought needs to be given to the concept of a Caymanian being denied a job because they are not the right fit as you put it. Is that because they might be culturally different from their Canadian co-workers, or their British customers may find their accent funny, or they are not related to the bosses wife, like the applicant from Jamaica? Is that capable of meaning the Caymanian is not the right fit? At what point do you draw the line that in the Cayman Islands these sorts of excuses as to why a capable Caymanian can be overlooked in favour of an expatriate is wrong and unacceptable?

  13. The Editor, The Caymanian Compass:

    Thank you for what I find to be a very a fair editorial.

    With respect, I am really not clear what Alden is saying.

    I am sure that we can all agree that it is fundamentally important that we all think and act carefully and objectively regarding Immigration policy and practice, (with the big picture in mind).

    I understand that Alden, on behalf of the PPM, has said: In the place of these provisions, i.e., the Rollover, there should be a general provision which provides that all persons on work permit are entitled to apply for permanent residence after they have lived in the Cayman Islands for 8 years and that they must do so by year 10 if they wish to remain in the Cayman Islands beyond that point.

    I would venture to say however, that it is my considered opinion that such a system is actually less viable. Instead of being more fair-minded, I would think that this approach would create such a burdensome back-log that immigration authorities would be even more stretched and that there would be an even greater delay in considering people’s applications. This would, in all likelihood result in more discontent and frustration for those who are the subject of the considerations

    Technically, it is very arguably the position that the suggested timeline is also wrong insofar as it is outside the provisions of international law, (by which we are inherently bound) please see my next comment for my reasoning.

    Further, it is also the case that without the provisions of a rollover or term-limit policy, which is subject to stated exceptions, the Cayman Islands come under an automatic requirement to grant residency to all persons in the Islands longer than a certain period of time, (which I believe to be the timeline currently contemplated by Immigration Law as it stands.)

    Also, does it really matter, (from the perspective of our non-Caymanian residents and the businesses which operate in the Cayman Islands), whether the effective period is 7 or 8 years?

    What of the inherent period of time which persons should be reasonably allowed to appeal any decisions taken, as well as the period of time which they should reasonably have to make provisions for any move which they are required to make if they are unsuccessful in the application process, (during which time they have a right to remain on island may well obtain an automatic right to remain, thus rendering the proposed two year consideration period completely null and void)?

    Is it now more fair and equitable for people to have a clear understanding of the possibilities from the outset?

    Do we know objectively, based on comprehensive empirical analysis, that the rollover is a real reason for economic struggles?

    Have we forgotten that the entire world (with few exceptions) is suffering under economic stress at the moment?

    Is it not fair to say that the immigration policy in Cayman is very comparable to immigration policies in what are considered some of the most progressive democracies in the world today?

    Are we convinced that perhaps what is lacking, (for whatever reasons), is not a comprehensive focus on carrying-out the terms of the present legislation, as closely as possible, within its stated terms?

    Should we not be prioritizing on ensuring that our limited resources are geared towards more definitive methods of potentially enhancing the Islands’ economic potential?

  14. I certainly understand that there are people who are aggrieved by some aspects of the implementation of the policy.

    At the same time, unfortunately no system, anywhere, is perfect. I know that many of those who work in the system try very hard to be as fair as possible.There are however, and probably always will be, flaws in the system.
    -I believe that Sherri is 100% spot-on.

    The fact is that the Immigration Law itself, (though not perfect as it is very difficult to convey, in legal drafting, all of the intentions of the majority of Legislators is based on the reports of the first IRT, which wer approved, without amendment, in the Legislative Assembly in 2003.

    I was Deputy-Chair of the first IRT, which Sherri chaired and of which Alden was a Member.

    EVERY member of that first IRT voted in support of the 3 Reports which it produced over a 1.5 year period. (We met for hours almost every Wednesday and considered laws, reports, policies and statistics from all over the world, including our own.)
    Deputy-Governor, Mr. Donnie Ebanks stated:

    With the amount of energy and resources dedicated to the task of creating this Immigration Bill, the people of the Cayman Islands should know that it is not just a law being created for them, but by them as well. The information and input for this very important piece of legislation will result in a law that this country not only can live with in the present, but can grow with into the future.

    Alden has now effectively said that, 8 years after implementation, it appears that the system is not working and the PPM has thus changed its tack. However for reasons already stated, I cannot agree with tinkering with the rollover or term limit policy and I think that Alden needs to revisit the IRT’s reports.

    This is an issue that was considered thoroughly and carefully and to dwell further on is to flog an already thoroughly whipped horse.pointless.

    It is a matter of European and UK law, as extended to the Cayman Islands, (and all BOTC’s), that a break in the period of residence in any place which is the subject of the European Convention on Nationality and the European Convention on Human Rights must give the person concerned an automatic right to a graduated form of residence.

    Further, before anyone repeats that it should be left to the individual, it is simply NOT an option to allow a person to choose to remain, without the person acquiring the actual right to remain instead it becomes an obligation of the Cayman Islands to provide this right to the individual pursuant to European law as extended to the Cayman Islands in 2002 and 2004 by the UK.

    When the Legislative Assembly considered the thoroughly researched 3 official reports of the first Immigration Review Team produced in 2002 and 2003 and the widespread public consultation that was sought, there was unanimous bi-partisan support of the Immigration Bill, 2003, (subsequently the Immigration Law, 2004 forerunner of the current Immigration Law).

    All 15 elected members of the Legislative Assembly, from both sides of the House, voted in favour of the Bill:

    The Immigration Bill 2003 – The Speaker: The Honourable Leader of Govern-
    ment Business.
    Hon. W. McKeeva Bush: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to move that a Bill shortly entitled The Immigration Bill 2003 be given a third reading and passed. An historic day for these Islands.
    The Speaker: The question is that a Bill shortly titled The Immigration Bill 2003 be given a third reading and passed.
    All those in favour, please say Aye. All those against, No.
    Ayes. NOTE: NO MEMBER VOTED NO, ALL MEMBERS WERE PRESENT AND THERE WERE NO ABSTENTIONS
    The Speaker: The Ayes have it.

    Strategy 16 of Vision 2008, which contained the unanimously agreed deliberations of a Roundtable consisting of 28 Caymanians and 27 Non-Caymanians, (of all walks of life and with equal say in the conclusions), was duly accepted by the Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth office in 1999.

    Vision 2008 included Action Plans, which stated, inter alia: We will create a comprehensive Immigration policy, which protects Caymanians and gives security to long-term residents. Further, All such policies should: be linked to the overall Growth Management Strategy; be fair to Caymanians and Non-Caymanians; apply to the to the Private sector and the Government at that time there were 2 separate sets of rules; establish a system for the Grant of Status at that time under a moratorium which ultimately lasted for 11 years; Establish an appropriate roll-over or term-limit system; ensure that non-Caymanians are aware of their rights and obligations before coming to these Islands; ensure the equitable prioritisation of training and promotion for Caymanians. inherently appropriate in any country for that countries’ citizens

    The Immigration Law, (and Regulations) do not make easy reads, but it is most definitely not fair to take any their parts out of context. These must be read as one and in the context of the overarching specifications of the British Nationality Act, 1981 (as amended) and the European Convention on Nationality, 2002 as well as the European Convention on Human Rights, (both as extended and of direct effect in the Cayman Islands).

    I am fairly certain that our Law is in line with the policies in most modern democracies, though it should always be kept under review, with appropriate sections being amended from time to time.

    Poignantly, the first IRT stated in its Report, that there should be a list of priority professions which are considered and approved, (on an annual basis) ,by Cabinet.

    Indeed, the monitoring of such list of professions is properly, (as set out by the first IRT in its 200 pages of Reports), the role of the current Immigration Review Team (IRT), (now a standing statutory Advisory Committee of Government)for some reason it is something that Cabinet has not yet appeared to do..

    In any case, it is undoubtedly fair to say that in terms of the official policy, Cayman currently fulfills, in the best possible way, its obligations to its people, to all persons who live in these Islands, and under UK and International law: though the real improvements must come about in fine-tuning the practice (not in the content of the policy.)

    On the other hand, it is my respectful opinion that Alden’s proposal does not satisfy all of the criteria and does not really do anything to improve the substance of Immigration policy or practice in Cayman.

    Of equal importance, I sincerely doubt that it does anything to improve the reality of our current economic challenges.

    On the facts, I don’t think that this position is indisputable.

    Patrick Schmid

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