Base wage, 'one man, one vote' get consideration

The ruling Progressives government continues to support the concepts of a minimum wage for Cayman, as well as the adoption of the “one man, one vote” principles, Premier Alden McLaughlin said last week.  

However, based on the premier’s comments, neither issue seems likely to be implemented in a hasty fashion.  

“We will [implement a minimum wage] only on the basis of a proper assessment and advice,” Mr. McLaughlin said, noting that a private members motion filed by North Side MLA Ezzard Miller in support of a $5 per hour minimum wage would be dealt with in Legislative Assembly this week.  

“We will proceed with care,” Mr. McLaughlin said.  

Mr. Miller has filed the same motion a number of times since his reelection to the assembly in May 2009. The proposal was accepted by the former United Democratic Party government, but it was never acted upon. Private members motions are considered advisory in nature to government.  

The former People’s Progressive Movement government, which ran Cayman between 2005 and 2009, promised to introduce a minimum wage before the general election in May 2009. 

“I am still committed to making a number of changes to the present Labour Law, which is now 20-odd years old. The introduction of a minimum wage is among them,” Mr. McLaughlin was quoted by the Caymanian Compass as saying in May 2008.  

The National Assessment of Living Conditions report, completed around the same time, recommended the establishment of a minimum wage, but it did not state what that rate should be.  

A second private members motion, moved by East End MLA Arden McLean, and scheduled to be considered this week, urges the adoption of “one man, one vote” principles, implemented via single-member voting districts or single-member constituencies.  

“For those in doubt, the government remains committed to the implementation of single-member constituencies and the adoption of the principle of equality of franchise,” Mr. McLaughlin said.  

Mr. McLaughlin said during the campaign for the May 2013 general elections that it was his goal to implement one man, one vote during the Progressives administration if his party was returned to office.  

Although they gave the Cayman Islands high marks on its election process last year, international observers who oversaw the May 2013 general election noted that the territory is not in compliance with generally accepted “equal suffrage” principles or equal voting rights.  

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association observers noted that Cayman now has two single-member electoral districts and four multimember districts, which return between two and six members to the Legislative Assembly.  

“This disproportion in the number of elected members per electoral district contradicts the equal suffrage principle of ‘one person, one vote’,” observers noted in their review.  

However, the fairness of the proposed one man, one vote single-member districts scenario drawn up by the 2010 Electoral Boundary Commission was also challenged by Commonwealth observers.  

According to the preliminary review, voting equality was “further undermined” by the fact that the average number of voters in each district varies widely. Under the multimember voting system, electors represented by one legislator vary “between 520 in the case of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman electoral district and 1,240 in case of George Town electoral district.”  

This is also against the principles of equal voting rights, Commonwealth election analysts said.  

“Generally, the difference per district should be no more than 15 [percent] or 20 percent,” said election analyst Marian Gabriel. “This is the best practice around the world.”  

Premier McLaughlin’s political opponents, including Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, have claimed that he is actually opposed to single member voting districts and is merely paying lip service to what he views as a popular political position. 

The premier has previously denied all such claims. 

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  1. It’s about time government moved forward with the Dynamic Dual’s (MAL North Side, East End) motions to be implemented. This would never happen with the other government. He didn’t believe in education either but our second Premier does and will work to get it done. What a difference an election makes with intelligent, honest and dedicated public servants at the head of our government. It’s great not to have trust issues in the way of making good government policy. I feel good all over and god bless or leaders.