Minimal interest in Cayman's minimum wage

On the subject of enacting a national minimum wage, the people of the Cayman Islands appear to have spoken. Actually yawned. Their opinion, judging from attendance at public meetings on the issue, is a resounding “Whatever.”

Despite government’s insistence that this is a “topic of national importance,” if we were forced to identify the single policy proposal in Cayman that least merited the hosting of six separate special town hall conversations — it just might be the minimum wage.

The thousands of residents in North Side, East End and Bodden Town who didn’t bother going to meetings in their districts this week seem to agree. In particular, Wednesday night’s meeting in Bodden Town attracted a grand total of four members of the public. That is most unimpressive, even more so considering that the town hall hosts, government’s Minimum Wage Advisory Committee, comprises 19 people who have been pursuing the topic for eight months. (It is unclear, at this point, whether the combined attendance at all the meetings has yet surpassed the number of committee members.)

Heretofore, the community’s apathy has not been confined to Bodden Town.

Minimum wage proponent and North Side MLA Ezzard Miller blamed the scant showing at his district’s Monday night meeting on the timing of the event. If it would have been scheduled at 8 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. — he explained — attendance at the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre might have been considerably better. (You see, because of driving distances, North Siders typically don’t make it home from work until rather late, and then, of course, they must have supper with their families first before turning thoughts to public meetings. Anything before 8 is simply too early.)

In Bodden Town, committee chair Lemuel Hurlston said his group has already received written feedback from more than 400 businesses and about 2,500 people. Perhaps the committee’s preemptive engagement is the reason for poor attendance at the town halls.

However, following the example of English friar William of Ockham, we would postulate that in this instance, the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one. In brief: Nobody’s attending because nobody’s interested.

Underlying discussions of Cayman’s minimum wage is a set of basic facts that have not changed since the committee was formed eight months ago, nor since lawmakers rejected Mr. Miller’s $5 per hour minimum wage motion 12 months ago, nor since lawmakers supported Mr. Miller’s same $5 per hour proposal more than three years ago, nor in the past decades since the topic began circulating regularly among the political discourse.

These are:

The groups most likely to have their salaries boosted through a minimum wage — gratuity earners, domestic helpers and, in general, no-to-low-skilled expatriates — are the groups most likely to be exempted from minimum wage requirements.

There is no simple, obvious and effective apparatus in Cayman through which to enforce a national minimum wage, if enacted.

No wonder people’s interest on the subject of a minimum wage is exhausted. We’re exhausted, too — with the topic — and with government’s interminable process.

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  1. Ah the secret of destroying something so essential to good common sense is to draw it out till people are exhausted . It appears like no one is concern but how can they not be? Make it a referendum and see the difference.

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  2. Would you expect the people of Cayman to do anything other than yawn. Caymanians are not the ones needing protection from the exploitation of people. I believe thats the new way of saying slavery which is what this is all about.

    Caymanians don’t care about minimum wage because those low paying jobs are beneath them. Caymanians will not undertake low paying jobs.

    So protect the ones who will.

    Lawmakers get off your ill used brains and do something. No, that comment is not a mistake.

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  3. The minimum wage benefits only one set of people. The politicians….

    The minimum wage do not:

    – Allow people to better pay their rent or buy houses
    – Doesn’t fix poverty
    – Doesn’t don’t put more food on the table
    – Doesn’t allow people to get a better education
    – Doesn’t allow people to get better jobs
    – Doesn’t increase opportunities
    – Doesn’t create more education and doesn’t promote the person to better themselves

    If it did any of these things, you would not see marches in NYC people picketing McDonald’s in the US protesting their 10.00 per hour minimum wage and all these people would have stopped being poor by now. what you DO see, is politicians tripping over themselves to appease them and guilt everyone else to vote for a minimum wage increase. The POLITICIANS gain from minimum wage. Minimum wage is a very temporary fix and eventually the costs adjusts putting those same people back exactly or worse off as job cuts follow.

    It Does however:

    – Create a political football for politicians to use to buy votes (who will be the next so caring politician to push for minimum wages increases at each election)
    – Keeps those same people they are claiming will help into stagnate jobs
    – It forces businesses to reduce costs (Cut jobs etc.)
    – Increases the costs to the consumers
    – Create bureaucratic tape to hire
    – Increases the size and involvement of the government into the private sector
    – Creases the potential for litigation on commerce’s

    We want more money? We have the blessing of being in a free and open market. Which means if you increase your value (learn something, better yourself), you will EARN more because you will be in MORE demand, more demand == More money, more opportunity.

    The politicians know this, they know its an easy sell for a relatively low cost to institute minimum wage which is why the public will generally support it at first. What they don’t tell you, is that it will be used as a scheme to leverage every election. Sure it will start at 5.00-7 per hour to start, then next year it will be 9 as costs increases and adjust, then it will be 15.00. Then union type people will get involved and you won’t be able to hire anyone for anything unless you meet the demands and all of the payment criteria. Then the politicians will cater to those body making it even harder to open a commerce here.

    Instead of trying to adopt the bad ideas of the US/EU and UK, why don’t we LEARN from their mistake instead? Can;t we see that these countries run massive deficits and are virtually broke?

    If you want a sure way to damage the private sector and commerce, get the politicians involved. They will bring emotions, into it and suck every political opportunity that comes from it, and we will flip the bill.

    People who continually depend on minimum wage as their ticket to higher income and a better life will ALWAYS be financial slaves to government and politicians, no matter how high the minimum wage is set.

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  4. Most of the people that I have spoken with don’t feel that the eventually agreed upon minimum wage will actually be anything that represents the true cost of living in the Cayman Islands. They feel that the amount will be negotiated down to a point where it will be meaningless. They feel that they have no voice and that is why they do not attend these meetings.

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  5. The difference between UK,USA and Canada to Cayman Islands is they have a minimum wage. They also have unions and they have a much lower cost of living.
    If one makes money you will be able to pay more bills, like rent, elect .There is no argument at all. You make more money you therefore can buy or pay . I went to college does that mean I will get more money to pump gas, no. But anyone with a college degree should qualify for more professional jobs like in Fiancee or law,insurance .
    Tourism is not training people for entry level jobs. Yes, there are some that don’t want a job. But if they show up they want a job.Give them one with a decent pay.
    The argument that costs will go up is not true. Prices for goods and services are very high. There are too many assoc. that have become Mafias in pricing.I can buy stuff from Jamaica half price of what it is here. Their duties are 55% how can they be cheaper? Profit margins. We are a captive audience on what businesses charge here. So if the price is already too high YOU think they are going to get higher. I remember in my Economics class the term The law of Diminishing return. Look it up and you will see it won’t work. Prices will not go higher unless they don’t want to be in business.

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  6. Some very interesting and thought provoking comments here.
    For my part: resistance to a minimum wage is about the rich and powerful protecting the rich and powerful. In all to many countries around the world, this is the case. Taking Len King’s point, there may be an element of the Caymanian, who is rarely in the position of having a low paid job, not being in the slightest bit interested in exploitation of those who come here ‘for the good life’ for a few years.
    The other point is that rarely, where there is a minimum wage, does this wage actually cover the cost of surviving – all too often it is a below subsistence wage.
    What is needed is a standard living wage below which no one should be paid.

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