Chamber of Commerce: Government must not 'blame business'

The Cayman Islands government must stop “blaming business owners” for the social problems that successive governments have “failed to prevent,” a Tuesday statement from the Chamber of Commerce’s executive council declares. 

The Chamber council’s statement indicated that the territory’s largest business representative group is becoming concerned that difficulties with obtaining legal permits for foreign workers – of which there are currently more than 22,000 – could eventually hurt the local economy, which depends heavily on foreign labor. 

The latest government survey of the local labor force, conducted this spring, showed that of a working population of more than 40,000, 47.3 percent were Caymanian and 52.7 percent were non-Caymanian. 

“In an economy with 20,000 more jobs than citizens, it is unrealistic, in fact mathematically impossible, for every job to be awarded to a Caymanian,” the Chamber council statement read. “It is disingenuous to portray every work permit issued as a Caymanian job lost.” 

The typically moderate Chamber organization’s statement was made in response to comments during a Legislative Assembly debate on Oct. 22 by Community Affairs Minister Osbourne Bodden. 

Mr. Bodden, speaking about a private members’ motion filed by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, was generally discussing the need to improve educational and training opportunities for Caymanian workers. Those opportunities were not readily available or even considered that important a generation ago, he said. 

During his debate, Minister Bodden decried employers’ “easy access to work permits” and noted that every time someone in government complained about the situation “somebody squeals.” 

He also said the Immigration Department’s current work permit approval system is a “confusion alley” and he advocated the separation of work permit approvals from the department, which has law enforcement as its primary function. 

Supporting the minister’s call for immigration reform, the Chamber council stated he was not correct regarding current access to work permits. Immigration boards, the council noted, will typically only grant a work permit after “an employer has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt” that no qualified Caymanian worker is available. 

“Wholesale denial or frustration of work permits will only cause the economy to contract further and put more Caymanians out of work,” the council stated. “Failing companies do not equate to job opportunities for Caymanians, nor success for Caymanian business owners.” 

The current work permit system, in the Chamber’s view, does not provide Caymanians who have suffered discrimination in looking for a job any redress, nor does it allow companies to defend themselves against such allegations.  

“The Chamber of Commerce condemns every instance of discrimination against Caymanians,” the council statement read. “However, we reject the notion that the private sector is systematically biased. 

“The private sector would not employ 13,000 working Caymanians if local employers were predisposed to not hiring them.” 

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  1. The Chamber of Commerce has proven once again that it either does not know what is going on in the Cayman Islands or is actively a part of the problem. Their latest attempt to bully the government is tasteless and crass and they should be ashamed of themselves.

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  2. I don’t understand what a society will do with such a large population of unqualified people ? Can we not hire one unqualified person and give them on the job training? Can that not be the solution? If you don’t hire them , they will still be here . They are not leaving , you still indirectly going to pay for them as Gov’t is forced to increase fees to give them subsistence. Why not help solve the increasing crime that is coming inevitably if one does not get a job? You are going to pay for it in more security , insurance, etc. Lets all try to solve the situation so that paradise continues.

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  3. I wholeheartedly support Mr Osborne Bodden comments; He and honest citizens know full well that the Chamber of Commerce represents everything, except Caymanians; especially when it comes to the granting of work permits.
    If it was left completely to that group, all Caymanians would be out of a job; and that is not only today, it has been so for as long as I can remember. That is why I always wonder what, and who are the "Chamber of Commerce in this country representing.
    "A Tuesday’s statement of the Chamber of Commerce declares"
    And, Here is another declaration that we must read carefully and be honest in our comments; If you are living here and is a part of this Community. If not, we know how that go with agree and disagreements.
    In truth, speaking, how can the Chamber of commerce make such a statement as seen in paragraph 10 to read, "Wholesale denial or frustration of work permits will only cause the economy to contract further, and more Caymanians out of work" What kind-a-statement is that, and rolling into paragraph 11. I do not buy those comments, and there is "No truth " in paragraph 12 and 13.

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  4. Immigration reform is needed. Thought needs to be put into the establishment of a Human Resources & Labour Authority that will deal with all facets of labour and would be in charge of work permit functions.
    The NWDA can be done away with.
    The Immigration Dept should be renamed as " Homeland Boarder Security" and be concerned with border security and control.

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  5. We need tough leadership thst wirks fot thise who elected them.How about passing legislation that rrgulates the extent of Chsmber of Clmmerce limiting it to business matters not political.lts time to regulate this strong srm gogerning body thst they think is their mandste as a Chamber.Time to put them in their place

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  6. I have said before that the two major problems are:

    1. Better education is needed for Cayman’s young people. Including state subsidized further education.

    2. Many low paid jobs pay just $6-7 CI an hour. Why would anyone in their right mind apply for those jobs when they can be paid $10 CI an hour to stay at home?

    Can a survey be done of the currently unemployed to find what jobs they would like? And more important, what jobs they are qualified to do?

    I believe that better education and a higher minimum wage would help tip the scales.

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  7. we need lefislation for gag order on contracted civil dervsnts and workpeit holders who disrupt our society causind devision imposing liberal ididealogies ny force where nol egislation ecists yo ptobide.

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  8. Being systematically biased is the nature of business and that’s how they survive and manipulating the systems to their advantage is the spirit of their creed. You can not blame them for what they are.Their creed is on of greed. Its is what it is.

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