Shortly before 8.30am on Tuesday, a man climbed up to the roof of the new extension to the Bodden Town Primary School and threatened not to come down until he was given his pay after being laid off on Monday.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Inspector Marlon Bodden said the incident started with Dexter Bodden’s employer over payment. Mr. Bodden decided to go up on the roof of the building, because he was upset over the situation.
For about two and a half hours in the pouring rain, the man, wearing a blue rain coat, hard hat and his tools and holding a hammer, said all he wanted was his pay and he would not come down if police, firemen, ambulance crew, construction workers and others tried to talk him down.
At one point, the fifty-something-year-old skilled carpenter and professional musician walked back and forth on top of the roof rafters, eventually returning to a makeshift shelter constructed of plywood.
He said he had come prepared to be there as long as it took for him to get his money and if the police tried to come up and get him down, he would hit them with his hammer.
“No way I’m coming down until I get what is owed to me,” shouted Mr. Bodden, waving a hammer threatening to hit anyone who tried to talk him down. “I need my two weeks severance pay and the balance of the money. I need the police to leave; that’s all I want. I need a way to survive and he will not take the bread from my mouth.
“Yesterday the man just called me out of the blue and told me there was no more work for me, but I know there is plenty of work still left on the building for me to do. The problem is the man is reluctant to pay me $14 per hour, which is peanuts in Cayman,” Mr. Bodden said speaking with the Compass by phone.
Mr. Bodden said he had been working on the Bodden Town building for a couple of months after being sent from the West Bay school project when he was told by the site contractor there was no more work for him.
“When I went there I told them I was working for $15 dollar an hour but they said they would only give me $14 per hour. I did not complain about the $15 I wanted and agreed to work for the $14 per hour,” Mr. Bodden said.
“I think it is outrageous what is happing to Caymanians. The problem is not with the expatriates coming here to look for work, but it is what our own Caymanians are doing to us on the jobs. They are greedy and most of them just want all the money for themselves and become millionaires over night,” he said. “They say they have no money to pay the workers so much, but I know the government spends millions on these jobs and they are saying they don’t have the money because they want it all for themselves.”
When Mr. Bodden was asked if he was going to be getting his money he said they told him they would be bring his money but the police had to leave.
“I did not come here to hurt anyone, I just came here to get my money and if this is what it takes then so be it,” he said.
After a long discussion, police officials agreed they would leave the premises. Mr. Bodden received his money and made his way down from the roof top.
“After receiving his money from his employer Mr. Bodden left the scene for home,” said Inspector Marlon Bodden. “There was no more need for police involvement and we understood the situation that Mr. Bodden had some issues with his employer over payment and was very upset.”
Pastor Ellen Peguero, who is related to the gentlemen, said she was not condoning his actions but this was a sign of frustration and the pressure the people are under in Cayman.
“When you back people in a corner they will react one way or the other,” she said.