Attempt to criminalize low-wages fails in LA

| 25/03/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly, minumin wage(CNS): One of the country’s elected representatives made a circuitous bid to introduce a minimum wage in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (24 March). As a result of what he says is the failure of successive minister’s to legislate for it, Ezzard Miller attempted to tag on an amendment to the penal code to make it a crime not to pay a minimum sum. The North Side representative made his move during the debate for another amendment to that law regarding damage to property. Miller asked government to change section 240 of the penal code as well to make it an offence for anyone to utilize the labour or the intellectual capacity of another person in the form of employment when the compensation was less then $6 per hour.

The attempt, however, to introduce a minimum wage was rejected by the government benches as it was claimed that to did so would create a double offence since there already existed provision for a minimum wage offence in the Labour Law.

Speaking to CNS following the defeat of his committee stage amendment, Miller said he was doing everything he could to try and get a minimum wage into law on behalf of his constituents. Miller denied that his amendment would have led to a double offence as he said the provision does not yet exist in the Labour Law as no amount has ever been set and he indicated that if the country waited around for a minster to set the amount it would likely never happen.

“I support the need for a minimum wage but successive ministers who have said they support it have failed to bring the legislation because of the processes involved,” he suggested.

Miller said he was committed to the principle of a minimum wage and he would continue to find a way to have one brought into law.

“I think we need to introduce this legislation to prevent the continued decline in value of Caymanian labour and prevent the continued importation of cheap labour.”

Miller related anecdotal evidence that people working in bars in restaurants during the seventies were earning over $10 per hour and today people were lucky to get $4.50 US. “There is something wrong with that equation,” the independent MLA added. He emphasised that people could not live on such low wages and that employers should not be granted work permits at those kind of rates.

Although successive governments have offered their support to the principle of a minimum wage, one that appears to have populous backing, successive ministers have encountered a number of bumps along the way as a result of opposition from the business community.

Miller’s indirect approach to secure basic pay for everyone was tabled in the Legislative Assembly during a debate started by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, standing in for Attorney General Sam Bulgin, as she brought an amendment to the House to change section 267 in the Penal Code tofacilitate certain cases to be heard in Summary Court.

Miller seized the opportunity to table his amendment to the same law in section 240 to make not paying someone a minimum wage an offence, which was rejected by the government benches, leaving low paid workers at the mercy of employers.

Category: Headline News

Comments (50)

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  1. Running on Empty says:

    "Minimum wages will only benefit the lowest income workers and they are mostly expatriet workers – working for the Caymanians who are statistically "believe it or not" in the middle wage income bracket."

    This poster said it all….it is therefore ok.. to pay poor wages.  As long as it has no effect on anyone but ex-patriot workers.  This is not how a society works.  It does not work by creating a caste system, which is where some are intentionally put at the bottom and are intended to remain there. Which unfortunately is what we have in Cayman at present. 

    We’re not addressing or suggesting exorbitant wages and benefits.  Using some in the Civil Service as an example.  We’re talking about MINIMUM wage…designed for a MINIMUM standard of living.  For ALL WORKERS. 

    What precisely is wrong with that? And how backward do we want to be? There is no protection here from workers being taken advantage of.  And where there is it isn’t effective.  Unions or associations are not allowed. Aside from some.  Guess which ones they are.  Financial Services and the Civil Service.  And tell me there isn’t a caste system.  Humbug.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard really needs to think before opening his mouth – the lady who makes $2,600 has stated it correctly. This will not aid Caymanians at all. The debt will always be on the poor man. Minimum wages will only benefit the lowest income workers and they are mostly expatriet workers – working for the Caymanians who are statistically "believe it or not" in the middle wage income bracket. Therefore if a minimum wage was to be introduced as the young lady tried to explain (and did a very good job of it) it would mostly aid the foreign workers and the Caymanians would be on the losing end – because the majority would not fall in the low income brackit. I would suggest to all Caymanians reading and posting on CNS to read carefully, leave your heart and all emotions out of it and let your head lead the way – if not you might just be getting on the train to "ouswitch" with Mr. Miller.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard really is an enigma. On the one hand he is a nationalist, on the other a socialist. The question is whether Cayman needs the kind of national socialism that Ezzard is suggesting.

    • anonymous says:

      The UDP rejected the MInimum wage Bill because Mckeeva, Nor Juliana, two so called CHRISTIANS are happy singing and talking about Jesus on the court house steps for so called prayer but ITS OK TO KEEP POOR WORKERS POOR, HELPLESS AND BROKE UNDERPAID; MAKING A MEASLY $3.00 PER HOUR AND $5.00 PER HOUR IN A SOCIETY THAT IS TOO EXPENSIVE FOR ANYONE TO LIVE EXCEPT THEM!

      shame on you, and the UDP this is HYPOCRITICAL AND I GUESS YOU ARE  ASKING GOD TO CHANGE YOUR HEARTS AND ASK HIM TO HAVE MERCY ON YOU THE SAME WAY THE POOR PEOPLE ARE ASKING FOR MERCY.

      I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT THIS GROUP OF LEGISLATORS  LED BY TWO SO CALLED "CHRISTIANS" HAVE REJECTED TO PASS A LAW THAT WILL HELP POOR UNDERPAID PEOPLE AND EVENTUALLY CURB CRIME. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE!!!!   They need to go and stop hiding behind the name of Jesus.

      JULIANA AND BIG MAC, ‘JUST WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

      • Anonymous says:

        Jesus would probably not get involved in macroeconomic policy.

      • frank rizzo says:

        Probably render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s

      • FUZZY says:

        To Anonymous Fri.13:25 Maybe Jesus would upset the table of the money changers .In other words "upset the money people".

    • FUZZY says:

      To Anonymous Fri..09:08 There you go again.Seems like when some people can’t win an argument on merit they resort to that old red herring called "socialism".Ezzard is pro Caymanian ;nothing more!nothing less!

  4. david Miller says:

    Well Ezzard thanks for trying to solve one of the major problems in this island. The business people in this island who do pay a minimum wage have nothing to fear. But the rest of you wise up! It is only for a time . Is there anyone in the civil service that makes less then 8.00 ci per hour? If we can pay gov’t workers properly why not the private interests. Or another possible solution cut your prices on goods and services.

  5. Anonymous says:

    As a business owner, I can say that all will happen is that I will add the additional cost to my product & services. To make things worst I will have to mark it up to cover the additional pension contributions, etc.

    Ezzard is merely looking for a good sound bite and not being honest with the public. If anyone thinks that the costs for labour would increase and those costs will not be passed on to consumers is simply living in denial. If a business owner is making so much money that they could do that I would like to meet him or her. The sad reality is that cost go up on labour, cost goes up on products and services. Simple. And if you are not working at the minimum, and do not see a change in your salary, you still will see a rise in prices making you worst off!

    I guess the next idea of Ezzard after that will be a law NOT allowing businesses to put up their prices after costs go up. Come to think of it, that was just done in Venezuela and Cuba. Wrong examples to follow Sir.

    • FUZZY says:

      To Anonymous Thu 19:29 And I will simply not use your service or buy your product.

  6. FUZZY says:

    Can we get a list of the MLAs who voted against a just wage for Caymanian workers at the lowest end of the pay scales.

    • Anonymous says:

      To Fuzzy Thu..18:34 Perhaps Mr Miller could let us know if their was a division (roll call vote) done on his proposed amendment;if so maybe he can supply the info you seek.

  7. Anonymous says:

     

    Creation of a minimum wage will cut off the direct path to greater prosperity for many poor families, and will delay the entry of other workers, including youth, into paid work by needlessly increasing the cost of unskilled labor. Employers will not be able to afford to hire as many unskilled workers, and will respond by cutting back services or replacing workers with better technology. Demand for unskilled labor could drop by as much as 15 percent in jobs that usually earn the minimum wage, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and making it more difficult for poor families to take this escape route out of poverty.
     
    Increasing the minimum wage will do little to improve the conditions of poor Caymanians. Relatively few of those workers who receive low wages are members of poor families. For those poor who are working, wage increases are substantial and come quickly as they accumulate job experience. Having a minimum wage will, however, eliminate entry-level jobs for unskilled workers/school leavers, making it more difficult for those who want to work to find jobs.
  8. Anonymous says:

    If the politicians don’t pass the laws we need to bring crime under control, $5 per hour will be more than most people are making in the foreseeable future. I have no problem with a reasonable minimum wage but please politicians get your priorities straight and bring in the laws we need to get the criminals off our streets and keep them off our streets. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I think their priorities are exactly where they need to be. If people were being paid a wage on which they can live and support their family perhaps they would not turn to a life of crime. I’m tired of hearing in the media of armed robberies taking place almost everyday!

      Laws which prevent are as important as those which deal with the criminals once they commit the crimes.

  9. The Truth is Out There says:

    Yes, a minimum wage makes sense but lets put that on the back burner for now and deal with the crime problem before it is too late. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you not see they are related? A minimum wage gives incentive to work an honest living. The lack of one gives incentive to get money other ways!

  10. CS says:

    Looking at the current UK minimum wage rates, and taking into consideration a 40 hr week and backing out the tax and NI paid in the UK, the minumum wage rates in CI would be:

    under 18: CI$4.06 an hour

    18-22: CI$5.12 an hour

    22 upwards: CI$5.93 an hour

    Looking in the paper notmuch difference from the lowest current wages where the work is mostly done by the damned furriners

    • FUZZY says:

      To CS Thu.13:57                "Not much difference from the lowest current wages where the work is mostly done by the damned furriners"                                                                                                             Thank you for supporting Ezzard’s position.

      • CS says:

        Thank you, so why do we need a law when wages are already above this level?

        It’s like creating a law saying people have to breath to survive, pointless and a waste of time or money.

        Unless he wants to set the level at twice the UK level, then we will see some serious price nad wage inflation.

        But your probably a little FUZZY on that

        • FUZZY says:

          To CS Fri. 11:31 The fact is that some workers are paid $3 per hour .I suggest you try surviving on $24 per day,,for a couple of months and then report how easy it is to live on such a pittance.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Whilst I generally agree with a minimum wage you must consider the consequences. What happens to those disposable jobs, supermarket baggers, trolley pushers, gas pump attendants? I’m surethere are many examples of jobs that would be lost, rather than improved with a higher minimum wage.

    So do you limit the minimum to full time employees? Probably a good start, but then watch as everyone gets put on part time contracts and less hours.

    How do you cover helpers? For some families, at $10 per hour, that’s $500 a week, do you exclude helpers or accept that life is more expensive.  What about someone who pays a helper to earn a minimum wage, both earn $10 per hour, where’s the incentive to work for nothing?

    Do you attach a minimum wage to the class of jobs? Watch as everyone gets reclassified…

    It’s not as easy as saying here’s what you should pay.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is an interesting topic there are those that will see that there are people in this country essentially being paid slave labour rates then there are others who will see it as an increase cost to their business.

    The introduction of a minimum wage will have an impact on the economy and it could be vary bad. This needs to be addressed but I dont know if the time is now given the current financial climate.

    Of course the other side is that as a country thay has Christianity fairly strong, I am extremely upset that money means so much to some that they are willing to make others suffer. Also this should be looked into as I believe that a significant number of these could be foreign workers, especially those unskilled.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you there is probably a need for a modest minimum wage to prevent abuse by business and most developed economies enforce one.  I also believe you are correct – this is the worst possible time to increase costs on businesses.  If a minimum wage were enacted immediately, the minimum wage drives ALL wages up.  The dishwasher making $3/hr (as an example) would have his wage increased to $6/hr.  Then his supervisor, who may be making more than $6/hr, will need an increase.  And then the manager will need an increase.  Then civil service will want an increase because the person waiting on them received an increase!

      Many studies have been conducted by other societies and they generally conclude that minimum wages do little to improve the lives of the working poor.  Quite frequently they drive an increase in unemployment in the unskilled labor force and among younger workers – just what we need we CIG has reported 38% unemployment among young Caymanians!

       

       

    • frank rizzo says:

      It will be business as usual. Unscrupulous employers will sign on to the minimum wage law, apply for permits stating they will pay the worker minimum wage, and promptly not pay or short pay knowing the worker will be too afraid to complain.

  13. what a mess says:

    I agree fully with Ezzard on this!

  14. Rorschach says:

      As someone who does not always see eye to eye with Mr. Miller on every subject, I applaud you, Sir,  for your effort to introduce a minimum wage law in Cayman.

      I have to ask, why does the government seem so hell bent on keeping certain segments of it’s society in poverty??  Is it so they can "throw the dog a bone" every four years??  What Mr. Miller is doing here is trying to bring the standard of living up for EVERYONE..

      I, for one, would like to see the minimum wagebe $10 an hour….who are we kidding.. try living ANY kind of a life on $250-$300 a WEEK…are we trying to ensure that only the most unskilled and desperate workers are attraced to our shores, by ensuring that  wages are so low that anyone with any kind of training or skill would LAUGH at the wages that are offered here???  This system almost guarantees that there will be poverty and extreme low standard of living for the majority of the working class….No wonder some(most) of these individuals are forced to live in overcrowded conditions and eat only the most basic of staples…some of these people have to work shifts and share a BED…when one person is going to work..the other is coming home and goes straight to the same bed, still warm…

     I know there are those that say that introducing a minimum wage will drive prices up, but I disagree…what drives prices up are those who provide goods and services who artificially inflate the cost of those goods and services while paying their employees a pittance, not to mention not paying pension, health insurance and making the employee pay their own permit fees… thereby ensuring that their profits are wide in comparison to their expenses…if some service providers were not nearly as greedy and sought long term profit over short term gain…everyone would win…

    oops…sorry about the above statement…did I spill the dirty little secret about a lot of our "respectable" businessmen and women??

    • anonymous says:

      I keep telling you we need Ezzard Miller for Premiere

    • Anonymous says:

      The substandard and poor wages and lack of pension and health insurance contributions were meant… for foreign workers on work permits.  Everyone else was supposed to work in the Civil Service with paid-for benefits, etc.  

      It hasn’t quite turned out that way. They ran out of room.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sooooooooo, let’s see. Say, for example, my helper comes at 7:30 am so I can get to work by 8 am. She works until 5:15 pm because I leave the office @ 5 pm or so. That means she works 9 h 45 mins days or 48 hours 45 mins a week.
      That would be 484.50 a week under your $10 minimum wage plan. Or basically a little under 2000 a month.
      I earn 2600 CI a month as a file clerk at an office. So that will now leave me with $600 a month to pay my rent, utilities, gas for my car, groceries every week for me and my 2 children (I am divorced and my ex husband never puts any moeny into thw court for his maintenance because he’s out of a job for a year now), helper insurance, my pension, my baby’s diapers, etc. Etc.
      How can this work?? Can you see my point here? Just because minimum wage gets set @ $10/hr, do you think my company is going to raise my pay too?
      Or maybe I should just NOT work and add my name to the list at Social Services for a Foster’s voucher, school lunches for my son, a house from national trust. Can you see what I’m leading towards?
      How can I pay my helper $2000 a month when I make $2600.
      There has to be a solution that would work for al involved!!!

      • Bobby Anonymous says:

        I wonder how your poor helper survives?

        May I as how much you pay her?

      • Anonymous says:

        Where do we get off as a society where file clerks demand a personal servant of their very own. Get over it, fast!

  15. Anonymous says:

    this guy is a joke… he tries to bring in a minimum wage without stopping to consider the effect it would have on the overall economy…..  a minimum wage law would kill caymans already fragile economy overnight!

    ezzard miller seems to be wasting everybodies time in the la by chasing his own backward agenda…. i now know what mac is saying when is talking about roadblocks and red tape…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you understand what a ‘minimum wage’ means?

    • anonymous says:

      You are the joke, not Mr. Ezzard Miller. You are a lost cause if you oppose such a brilliant move of his.

      May I add, you’re probably a Crook as well since you are in favor of taking advantage of the underpaid.  You’re just a low life!

      • Anonymous says:

        wow.. what a response…. you obviously have not got a clue about basic economics

    • Dred says:

      Let me guess now. Do you have a helper or gardener you are paying CI$100/wk?

      Or maybe you are a bar owner bringing in basically prostitutes from other countries who make CI$200 a week in salaries but CI$1,000 a week in "misc" income? Which co-incidentally has lead to many marriages being broken up. Families torn apart.

      Maybe if bar owners had to pay more for staff there would be less bars and less people getting stabbed or shot.

      Mr X this is half of our problem. We are creating a large poverty level here where criminal activity is breeding from.

      You simply don’t get it. You miss the boat so long ago it’s not funny.

      What affects will this have? You seem to see this creating the end of us.

      Maybe the rate needs to be discussed more but not the fact that there should be. I think the CI$6 seems like a very good started point to be honest. It’s not too high or too low.

      • Anonymous says:

        cayman is one of the most expensive places on earth… what do you think would happen if basic labour rates were doubled????

        i bet you would be the first one to complain because your groceries are now 25% more expensive….

    • anonymous says:

      Any govenment voting against a minimum wage should be  thrown out on their heads in the street, they are a disgrace.

       

      Independent, Not PPM

  16. Anonymous says:

    Unbelievable!!!. I saw an advertisement in the Compass 2-3 weeks ago for an "Experienced dish washer, kitchen helper", in one of the most popular restaraunts on GC. Had to have 4 years experience working in a top class establishment, good education etc. And what was the renumeration—–$3 an hour, absolutely disgraceful!!!!!!. Well done Mr. Miller, every time I hear you on the radio I think to myself you are almost the onmly MLA who understands!!!!!.

    • Anonymous says:

      And, almost certainly, an incompetent idiot , or Board, will grant the permit "because no Caymanians applied", and grant another 50 just like it before lunch! 

  17. anony says:

    Thank God for an elected Official that works for his people. Mr. Ezzard ZMiller.

    Kudos to Mr Miller

  18. Anonymous says:

    Its funny, most of what Ezzard says on the important issues is obviously complete lunacy but on some of the smaller issues he actually appears to be doing more good than harm. Its pretty irrelevant to society but his Green Iguana law actually makes sense, well done. And now his attempt to introduce a minimum wage makes sense. We all know that it hasn’t been introduced in the past becuase the MLA’s are in bed with the business community and in actuality they don’t want to see it themselves due to their own business interests. So i say again, well done Ezzard, but please stick to the small issues.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard is right on this one. At the very least cabinet should direct the Work Parmit Boards not to grant a permit to any employer unable to guarantee a minimum take home of $6.00 an hour.

    • anonymous says:

      Anyone that opposes Mr. Ezzard Miller for this brilliant move to help the people as he always does, need their head examined and is guilty of raping the underpaid workers in our society.

      All of you that oppose Mr. Ezzard Millers find workmanship dO NOT MEAN THE PEOPLE OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS ANY GOOD!

    • Anonymous says:
      They can set any minimum wage any thing they want, but employers will get around this also..promise a living wage, but after they have permits, just not paid them properly.. I have friends working in G/C for months now, but still have not been paid there full wages from day one.  Now tell me how do you plan on enforcing this..Permit holders are afraid to turn their employers in, for fear that they will be sent home. So sad that people are being treated like this..Slaves.. The worst thing in life is to be without Hope. Who will help the work permit holders???  In fact who will help all our workers?
      • Anonymous says:

        I suggest you ask the AG why he actively continue to permit the law to be ignored. Unless he steps in, what you suggest will continue.

  20. Anonymous says:

    What a clown. Not happy with having his ideas defeated in general debate he has to try the back door approach. How underhand.

    Glad the other MLA’s were alert this time.

    • FUZZY says:

      To what a clown Thu 07:37 .Just for clarity;Ezzard announced in the house that he would be moving an amendment at a later( committee) stage.So there was no attempt to sneak it by,nothing underhanded.