50 years ago: Dependence on seafaring raises questions

NEW Bodden-50-years-logo-final-595x420In the June 8, 1966 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, Bodden Town correspondent Haig Bodden wrote:

“Departing from this district on Thursday last for New York were Edward Solomon, Lewis Berry, Rudolph Martinez and George West. These young men have gone to work with National Bulk Carriers.

“The lifeline of our economy depends today more than ever on our seamen. Thousands of dollars come into this island every year from this source.

“It is safe to say that had it not been for the shipping companies, especially the giant N.B.C., there would not be three banks in operation here. There would be no jet airport, no supermarkets, no telephones, no asphalted streets filled with sleek automobiles, no tourists, no rapid construction of prefabricated and block buildings. In fact, the island would be where it was 25 years ago.

“There is one appalling factor in this otherwise rosy picture, and it is this: they that go down to the sea in ships are in many respects outcasts.

“What is being done to protect our seamen? It is true that a union is functioning but, as everyone knows, its powers are far from being absolute. Able though the union’s negotiants may be, their ideas are generally circumscribed.

“Every week a new committee is formed or a new board established for some object of insignificant purpose … Why is there no marine board or shipping master besides an overworked collector of customs?

“Although things are not satisfactory, proper negotiations could improve the lot of the seaman. I firmly believe that if a delegation from the House of Assembly visited the head office of the main shipping companies, some amicable agreement could be formulated and both employer and employee would benefit.

“The most vital string in our economy is being threatened … Caymanians must wake up and live and fight to preserve the prestige built up by countless generations in the noble tradition of seamanship.”

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