Editorial for 12 June: Filipino issue disappointing

The Cayman Islands government recently learned that it was
removed from an international “blacklist” released last year by the
Philippines.

A total of 41 countries and territories had been
“blacklisted” at the recommendation of the Philippines Foreign Affairs Office
due to the fact that their labour and employment practices had been called into
question. Staying on the blacklist would have meant that Filipino workers could
no longer have come to work in Cayman.

Attorney General Sam Bulgin said last week that the
Philippines basically didn’t do its homework before announcing the Cayman
Islands’ name on the list. He said, if they had done so, this whole situation
might have been avoided.

It seems that the situation may have been the same with 30
other countries that were also taken off the list in the months following the
Philippines government’s announcement.

The “blacklist” declaration seems frankly to have been done
a bit irresponsibly by the southeast Asian nation.

However, this newspaper is not quite certain that our
territory is in the position to demand an apology.

Let’s be brutally honest: Treatment of Filipino nationals in
the Cayman Islands during the past 10 years has not been among our territory’s
proudest of achievements. Many know of reports of Filipino workers living in
substandard conditions; often six, eight, 10 to a small apartment or house. The
workers often paid pittance for working long hours at jobs no one else wants to
do.

The typical response to this sort of statement is: “well, if
they don’t like it, they should go home then”. The problem with that is that
the people who invited them here in the first place were … well … us. 

The issues surrounding the Philippines worker “blacklist”
are disappointing for all sides. Let’s hope all of us can strive to do better
in the future.

 

 

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I think this editorial misses the point. Filipinos often live 6, 8, 10 in a house by choice. As part of their culture, they work hard here to send money home to family. They are proud, good, hard-working people, and they come here to work hard so that they can provide for their loved ones. Part of the way they do that is by sharing apartments, rooms, and sometimes even a bed with someone else to save on costs, so they have more money available to send home.

    There are many in service-industry jobs in Cayman who have to share an apartment. That they choose to share with only one roommate, and as a result save less money, is a personal choice, just as it is a choice other people make to live 6/8/10 in an apartment so that they save more.

    The better question to be asking is, with Caymanian unemployment levels relatively high (I believe the unmber is in the 6-8% range, but not sure?), why are the Caymanians not taking the jobs that Filipinos currently hold. Obviously it would be better for the companies to hire Caymanians, as they would not have to pay a work permit fee. You would think an unemployed person would take any job, but that seems to not be the case.

    If we are going to be brutally honest as you say, we should be praising the Filipino community for working hard at jobs that no one else wants to do and at the same time, shining a light on the unemployed Caymanians, asking why they don’t want to do these jobs.

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  2. Caycompass…

    You’ve raised one side of the equation…you haven’t addressed the other…

    Which is that Philipino work agents and brokers operating in Cayman…and the Philipines, are integral to getting their Philipino nationals jobs, knowing the existing conditions, in Cayman and other places in the world.

    The these agents work in collaboration with the Philipines Govt for whom their nationals working abroad are a major source of revenue.

    This ‘black list’ was intended to target the worse countries on earth for abuse of foreign labour, which in those countries, include slave labour and sexual exploitation.

    The worse countries for this include Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf States, Afghanistan, et al, where non-Muslin foreigners are treated as less-than-human, by their wealthy employers, who treat their own nationals in quite a similar manner.

    The conditions under which foreign workers live in Cayman are dictated by economic conditions…and also immigration restrictions on time-limits; you could not reasonably expect a work-permit holder to invest in buying a home, or paying exhorbitant rents when they are aware that their time working in Cayman is limited; that would just be a total waste of money for them.

    Their investment in their time in Cayman is to sacrifice their creature comforts to save and invest in those creature comforts back home, when their time in Cayman is over.

    I’m sure that Caymanian seamen, Cayman’s immigrant workers of the past generation could tell us a thing or two about the sacrifices they made sailing the world in the cabins and on the decks of ships, for the very same reasons.

    To Steve…there is only one real reason that unemployed Caymanians will not pursue lower-paying, menial jobs…that reason is PRIDE.

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  3. I don’t see what all the hoopla is about. The Filipino Govt. knows what the conditions here are for their workers, they have been sending them here for decades (from the 80’s when they were first imported to work in one particular grocery store). That should have been a red flag back then for Immigration, but again who really does their job in the Govt.? However, as a former HR Mgr. whom recruited Filipinos for my employer, I know first hand what is required. They are to have the following in place and approved by the Govt. prior to their release into the world: 1. Job security, meaning the work permit MUST be approved before they can leave. 2. Accommodation, this must also prove that they are living in a safe, clean and habitable environment. 3. They must be provided with an airline ticket, travel money to here etc. just to name off a few. So, for the Filipino Govt. to slap us in the face like this, in my opinion that was brutal, disrespectful and in all essence UNGRATEFUL. They have a much lower unemployment rate right now than we do at 7.2%, and one must wonder why that is so, could it be that they ship out all of their unemployables to other countries under the farce that they are ‘better workers’. They to me are like machines, coming off an assembly belt and given an airline ticket, spending money and dumped in countries around the world to make money for their Homeland and they MUST send back as a requirement a large percentage of their annual salary to their country, aiding to keep their country’s coffers solvent!! So, do not pardon me when I say this, who really cares!! If this Govt. is so quick to jump at every criticism why aren’t they jumping up and down making sure that the EMPLOYABLE CAYMANIANS get that job over the Filipino whom are already being disenfranchised with the ‘proverbial work permit noose’ hanging off their necks. Furthermore, why aren’t our Govt. investigating the way the employers whom lie on the work permit applications about the salaries to the Filipino, but in truth and fact they are paid way less than what is declared!! What the Immigration, Pensions should do is merge their databases, and compare the pension being paid against what was declared on the work permit! That would be a hell of a lot more sensible to me than how it is being handled now! But I’m no expat with fake alphabets behind my name making this suggestion, so our Govt. don’t find it valuable enough. In long and short, the Filipinos should simply thank this country every day for the right to work here and be free doing so, because their freedom is a hell of lot more than here than they have back home. I would suggest to the Filipino community please STOP HARASSING MY COUNTRY!

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  4. Lastly, we do not need an apology, the only need we have is for this nation of people to stop harassing us and feeling they are superior to everyone else, because they aren’t just go to Court and you will see what I am talking about. Plus within their own community they are taking abuse, such as if they don’t pay the Filipino that sponsored them for the job they will be beaten, ridiculed here and their family back home also endures the same abuse. So since we going to dig up bones, let’s shine a light on that part of the evil they have imported as well!!

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  5. MrsKnowItAll

    I’ve just had a brainstorm!

    Why doesn’t Caycompass do some investigative journalism like some other media sources do…by carrying out ‘sting’ operations and disquising or hiring some unknown freelance journalists to pose as ’employees’ or workers seeking employment in some of these establishments…or better still…

    Pay some employed workers to give them the scoop on what’s really going on inside some of these companies that have this overload of Philipino…and Jamaican…employees.

    What they would find out first hand would amaze and shock them…that much I can guarantee.

    Would they be so quick to report what they found ?

    Of that, I’m not so sure !

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  6. The work situation for ALL expat workers in the Cayman Islands is a bit disappointing, although I will concede points to all sides.

    First of all MrsKnowitAll, the placement agencies that specialize in Filipino workers know the system well and the Govt of the Philippines is known to be one of the more corrupt governments for a reason. May I also say, your WALLOFTEXT writing style is pretty much unreadable. I’m surprised the Compass editors accepted your post.

    Steve, you are quite right that expats make choices about where they live and when I first arrived I slept on a sofa for about 3 months. I was saving money and waiting on a work permit, and yes they took that long back in the bad old days. I later never accepted divemasters as tenants, and after that added legal secretaries to the list.

    And as Firery says, this whole situation shines quite a bright light on unemployed Caymanians. There is an overwhelming sense of entitlement among Caymanians that never used to exist.

    May I also say Firery, that Caymanian seamen were emigrant workers, and not immigrant workers.

    The Filipinos and other Expats take on jobs for dollar pay rates that no Caymanian would care to do, and in some cases are well below their education level. Recently there was an excellent feature in this paper about a Filipino woman working as a nanny, despite the fact that she was a trained teacher in her own country. That is far too common among all expat workers.

    The biggest single difference between the Filipinos and the rest of the expat community is that the rest of us usually have somewhere else to go, we know when we’re being abused in the work place, and we know when it’s time to walk away. That is another form of PRIDE.

    In conclusion, the editors have raised a valid point, but have missed a few others.

    I enjoyed this particular discussion thread.

    Editor’s note: We aim to please.

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