Chamber sweats labour rights

| 08/10/2014

(CNS): The Chamber of Commerce appears to be concerned that the employment minister’s plans to change the Labour Law giving employees more rights will increase the cost of doing business for their members. Tara Rivers said her ministry is proposing some 80 changes to the law, several of which are designed to protect workers, including a boost in severance pay for those laid off from their jobs and better compensation for wrongfully dismissed workers. Tara Rivers told her legislative colleagues that the proposed amendments would be put out for public consultation later this year but the Chamber is already worried that it could mean tougher times for bosses.

The Chamber has been blamed in the past for blocking improvements in protection for workers and once again the organisation which represents some 700 local businesses has said it wants to evaluate whether any of the amendments will lead to a higher cost of doing business or more red tape.

Johann Moxam, the Chamber president, has written to Rivers regarding her plans asking to see the proposals as he said labour matters remain a top issue for the members.

“Many businesses continue to face high costs and the challenge of obtaining the required skilled local labour to grow their businesses. If the cost of doing business continues to increase to a level which makes it unprofitable then good paying jobs will be lost or outsourced to other jurisdictions with lower costs, less bureaucracy and where businesses are welcomed,” Moxam said.

Offering support to the enforcement of existing workplace legislation, he said imposing higher fines and penalties is only effective if the system of enforcement and prosecutions is robust.

But the minister pointed out during a debate in the Legislative Assembly last month that the current law is inadequate and has not seen a significant overhaul for some ten years. The LA debate was on a private member’s motion brought by the independent member for East End, Arden McLean calling for firms laying off Caymanians to be required to notify and justify redundancies to the labour and immigration authorities. 

The motion, which received government support, was triggered by what is alleged to be a number of lay-offs of local workers at the Morritts Tortuga Club resort in East End, a member of the Chamber. It is understood that the local workers who lost their jobs believe their posts were filled with permit holders — an issue which is now before the labour authorities. Despite being praised by government recently for its commitment to employing Caymanians, according to the local MLA, the new management at the resort appears to have made an about face.

McLean also wanted to see an increase in the compensation given to wrongfully dismissed workers, an issue which the minister backed when she said that the current requirement to pay just one-week for each year worked in unfair dismissal or redundancy was not fair and changes to the law would see it increased.

Rivers said there had been more than 200 cases of unfair terminations to the Labour Appeals Tribunal over the last year.

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Comments (44)

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  1. Amendments says:

    I hope the Maternity Leave contained in the labour law is up for review. In Cayman today, the majority of workers cannot survive on 1/2 pay which is what women get while on maternity leave. And a lot of big companies follow the labour law as it is to their benefit. Rent/mortgage, food, electricity, water, insurance, gas etc do not reduce by 50%.

  2. Anonyanmous says:

    Calling the JORDANIAN, please start a LABOUR UNION.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Only way to balance the power of Government and the Chamber of Commerce is to form a proper LABOUR UNION then and only then will the working people of these Islands get some true representation.  Lots of Lawyers out there that can start the ball rolling asisted by lots of smart people.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Isn't it about damn time that employees get some protection. The damn Chamber of Commerce is an employers union but the lil grocery store worker- who makes the money for the employer can't have anyone stand up for her. This is why I REFUSE to buy locally, with the exception of groceries and other necessities. If I needed a spool of fishing line, I would prefer to go on.ine and order it. It is high time now that Government STOPS paying attention to the Chamber and it's cronies and do what's right for the little man of this country. I am aware of an individual who spent all her working life at a local bank, and when they decided they didn't like or need her anymore, they kicked her out the door with her severance pay. A drop in the bucket for this bank, who recouped this within a short period of time. Johan, Will and the rest of the Chamber…get your Pensions issues sorted out, then come make representation in regards to a revised Labor Law…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow.  You're all for helping your fellow working working class Caymanian by refusing to buy local,  You're a genius.  Maybe you should run for office.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh wow, ganja logic

  5. Anon says:

    If the employers do the right thing, they won't have to worry, will they?  Not all, but some employers have gotten away with shocking atrocities against their employees for too long. The employers have the legal beagles telling them what to do and the employees have no one. 

    It would be interesting to know how many of the 700 Chamber members really invest in their employees – other than paying for a work permit (and some of them collect from the worker for that). Do they try to develop their human resources (the employees), with training, encouragement to further their academic skills and assisting with adjustments in schedules, or allow study time or time off for exams etc.  (even if it has to be unpaid time off). There are so many things employers  can do to enhance the relationship with their employees, at little or no cost to them, and in return gain the loyalty and appreciation of their employees.  If the business owners would invest the cost of a Work permit in some deserving young Caymanians, what an amazing shift that would be. We can hope! 

     

    • Anon says:

      I'm guessing the thumbs down(s) to this post are from employers who do not care about their employees. 

    • Anonymous says:

      You are right……take a look at what is happening at Morritts where I work. LONG serving employees who are fired just because they arent liked for one reason or another. In Cayman, the only people these days who have no rights are us- the CAYMANIANS. And when i refer to Caymanians- I mean those of us who came into this world at the GT Hospital or in a house in this country. It was good to see the Labour Board at my workpalce again yesterday- shows that those who attended, and others in theri office have the interets of us as employees at hand.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don't give a rip about the Chamber and those who jump on here agreeing with them! It is about time that the government clear the cobwebs, see reality and stand up for those who are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers in these islands.Thank you Minister Rivers and your staff who are working to bring these changesto fruition.

  7. AWARDS says:

    It is high time employers have to truly compensate employees who are found to be wrongfully dismissed.  The labour law clearly defines how an employer can fire someone with and without cause,   however many businesses believe they are above the law.   A few business SHOULD have to pay big bucks to wrongfully discharged empoyees.  Once some businesses pay,  proper procedures and human resource policies will kick into high gear.   Labour Board should have the power to award damages upward to three years salary as proposed.  It is not too much to ask for employers to treat employees with respect,  Caymanians and ex-pats are terminated without regard.  The days of businesses treating employees unfairly is coming to a much needed end.  Empower the Labour Board to do its job and really make it hurt for those businesses who are acting unfairly.   Revisions in law are needed and the time is now.   Good job East End and Rivers.  

  8. Anonymous in the face region! says:

    How dare you try to protector workers' rights and make businesses treat their employees as humans but is it really surprising that the chamber is against this. They only seem to have the interest of the business owner in mind. Then again this is the same country where elected officials have actively argued against minimum wage because as we all know it would be outrageous for an employer to treat their employee as a human being and pay them a living wage. It is so clear where their true loyalties lie and who their true constituents are.  

  9. Anonyanmous says:

    TO JONATHAN AND ALL FED UP AND UNEMPLOYED CAYMANIAN

    Time for a good Labour Union, maybe Jonathan Piercy can spear head it and start with a membership drive of five dollars for registration to all unemployed Caymanians.  I am sure it will get lots of members to equal out the balance of power. Jonathan you are very smart so we know that itwill work and when you get enough people in the Union then you can open a micro business loan association where your members can get loans to start up business because word on the street is that they are looking to get rid of CIDB.  Anyway CIDB is not giving business loans and people don't have jobs so it's virtually impossible to start a small business even if it is to sell coconuts to tourist at the side of the road because you need to buy straws and paper towel and we don't have the money for that and no bank on island will lend us.  JP get together with Mr. Hill and let it happen, unemployed Caymanians are fed up and waiting to get their deliverance.

    Thank you CNS for printing this because I know that The Compass won't

  10. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman islands government can not even enforce the laws they already have much less some new ones.    If they were even a little bit competent they would work on enforcement that wasn't a joke first.  But no.  The Pension cases are a great example of good laws that don't protect the workers because the enforcment is pathetic.

  11. Tricky one says:

    Yes, I heard about this.  It was done while the local General Manager was away and is simply shameful (and for once I support the local workers in East End.)  The wages are not high to begin with and bringing in even cheaper labour does not do anyone any good. 

    I'm all for business being fair and fair means that if you work hard and do a good job, you get to keep your job.

    The problem with the working class in Cayman is once again the ruling class?

    ***  was triggered by what is alleged to be a number of lay-offs of local workers at the Morritts Tortuga Club resort in East End, a member of the Chamber. It is understood that the local workers who lost their jobs believe their posts were filled with permit holders — an issue which is now before the labour authorities. Despite being praised by government recently for its commitment to employing Caymanians, according to the local MLA, the new management at the resort appears to have made an about face.

    I am a business owner and believe in treating employees well and respecting our current laws.  Loyalty pays far better than a fast buck. Part of our social business success is our employees.  Keep the laws the same, but deny the new work permits.

    Tortuga needs to go the the human capital seminar HR is the new IT?

  12. Anonymous says:

    What was the name of that famous Economist ? The one that said Capitalism would destroy society if left without laws to protect the workers. 

    I guess you would like to hire people who just need a bowl of rice and could sleep 20 people to a room. Probably don't want to include a bathroom per 2 people cause it would cost too much and you could find people who would defecate in the bush. That would save money and increase profit. 

    How about being thankful that you're saving 150,000 a year and don't have to pay taxes on your business in USA, Canada and Europe. To the chamber of commerce who are Caymanians, stop going to church until you read the bible over again.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good job Tara, don’t worry about the little Few Greedy business owners that is against this. They are always looking for more and paying less. I wonder how they would feel if they were to work for a company for 35 years with out calling in sick or late, then got laid off or the new excuse (Redundant) for no reason! Then to find out that they have been replaced by a permit holder just so that company could save a little more, Answer That… They keeping saying that Caymanians are lazy, if they were! who built Cayman from the start? Caymanians ain’t lazy, pay them good and treat them Fare and give them the same opportunities like you give other nationalities and you’ll see a big difference…

    A concern Caymanian…..

  14. Anonymous says:

    This department is not only a mess under this Minister it is a disaster under the current Director. He is the worst that the country has ever had. 

  15. Diogenes says:

    The problem with laws that increase workers rights is that in practice under the current immigration regime they can only be asserted by Caymanians. An employer can make a complaint by an expat literally go away by withdrawing their permit and having immigration deport them. Unless you deal with that issue by increasing workers rights ( that practically only apply if someone is actually here to complain) you just add another reason to an employers to hire foreign. Hire a Caymanian and there is a business turn down – expensive compensation. Hire an expat – bye bye no problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is an excellent and very valid point.  However, non Caymanians are persona non grata here.  If  any new law was to apply to ALL workers, there would be the vocal minority who would scream about expats being treated more fairly than them.  Sad to say but true.

  16. UHUHUH` says:

    I want to congratulate Minister Tara Rivers for publicly stating that it is her intention to change the Labor law so that no employee can be dismissed without proof that they violated some lawful rule or regulation. For so long no one it seemed, or wanted to tackle this subject, nor do what was necessary to protect  workers in tis Island! Neither "Government of the recent past, nor the Chamber of Commerce" have done what is absolutely necessary to reach [thru dialog and discussion]  a solution to the plight of weekly wage earners, which is the implementation of a livable wage! Please give "this subject" [livable wages] equally as much attention! 

     

  17. Anonymous says:

    If these laws are past, there should be no change to the cost business unless you are the “business of hiring and firing”.

    Proper track records of disciplinary actions taken against the employee such multiple written warnings would lead to fair dismissals and there will be no penalties to business owners.

  18. Anonymous says:

    There is no doubt that the Labour Law is overdue a major overhaul.  For example if a Caymananian or ex-pat is dismissed (wrongly) they have to bring any claim for unpaid wages, holiday pay, unpaid overtime etc in the Summary Court while they make a claim for unfair dismissal and severence to the Labourt Tribunal. The Labour Tribunal needs jurisdiction to handle all claims made by an emplyeeagainst an empoyer upto a cap, say CI$25,000 ?

    The "fines" for wrongly dismoissing people without caus should increase from one week's salary for every year of employment and the Tribunal needs more discretionin clculating awards.

     

    I am not advocating increasing oss or those obeying the la jst for thoe who are not.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Tara. The law is woefully inadequete. 

  20. Anonymous says:

    Anything to protect the average person and the CHamber is ready to cry it down.

  21. Notch says:

    Shame on the Chamber President and his members….seems they've found the ultimate two faced Bro Nancy in him. If you are not with us …. you are surely against us! 

     

    • Anonymous says:

      He's doing great as the President. Try to understand as President of the Chamber he is advocating the views of the membership. Get a grip!

      That is what the head of an organization like the Chamber is supposed to do it's not personal.

  22. Anonymous says:

    As a reitred Caymanian that worked hard all of my days, its pains me to see young people these days thinking everything should just be laid down on a silver platter.  I've worked for people, started little businesses myself, not made futunes but provided for my family and made an honest decent living.  Cayman is continually moving towards being a socialist state and most of this thinking has come from the past goverment where handouts are the norm and everyone wants money for doing nothing. Our Caymanians need protection, but its hard enough to keep a business running in Cayman with all the extra fees, increased duty and ever growing employment costs.

    • The Thinker says:

      I am truly amazed at the thumbs down on this comment.  There must be more of the "people these days thinking everything should just be laid down on a silver platter" than I thought!  If you aren't sure of the meaning of "work ethic", look it up.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Increasing compensation for wrongful dismissal is a real cost because businesses face so many bogus claims and have to settle them.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I really wish Tara and her portfolio will put together a package regarding redundancy before 14th November when so many Caymanians are being sent home by HSBC due to closure of this company. A few of those long time Caymanians has been there over 20-25 years and will now be forced to relocate or try to find jobs elsewhere or become a burden to an already heavy laiden Social Service. I do trust the government will see to it these people are properly compensed in this closure and these employees are not forced to swallow the slush sent down from the Bermudian office which has dominated this company for years. Lets warch and see the outcome.!

  25. Captain X says:

    Moxam:  “Many businesses continue to face high costs and the challenge of obtaining the required skilled local labour to grow their businesses." Well Moxam if they are not able to financially adjust to compliance of the Labor Law, then they shouldn't be in business!  Stop worrying about employers who use people for their own end!  They are enough business-oriented people in the world and Cayman that would love to replace them! 

    Moxam for goodness sake take the people's side for once in your life!

    • Anonymous says:

      The president is supposed to represent the views of members which is exactly what he is doing.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Obtaining a Canadian Work Permit

    The general rule is that every person seeking to go to Canada to engage in employment must make an application to a visa officer in order to obtain authorisation to go to Canada for that purpose before the person appears at a port of entry. As such, if your potential employer's application was refused, it means that perhaps there were insufficient recruitment efforts or failure to observe the rules regarding advertising.

    The LMIA is based on specific requirements that:

    * The wages offered by the employer are consistent with prevailing wages paid to Canadians in the requested occupation;

    * The employer demonstrates sufficient efforts to hire a Canadian in the position;

    * The application file for the LMIA is complete; and

    * Based on the Labour Market Information (LMI), there is a shortage of workers for the position at the location of work.

     

    So the Immigration system we should be enforcing in Cayman is no different from larger countries.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how many cases of "fair" terminations there have been in this country. Standard procedure seems to be lose your job, file a claim and try to get more money from the man!

     

  28. Anonymous says:

    Small business creates jobs and changes like this target the companies that can least afford to cope. In a country where the norm in government is to lay someone off but give them full pay for three or full years before full pension just is not viable. 

    A painter that has worked for a few years for someone then buys his own truck, gets a few extra jobs and hires some helpers… That is the backbone of an economy. Not CUC or Walkers and their massive profits. 

    Small business people make little more than their employed counterparts yet are exposed to so much more risk. 

    Chances are there is nothing a company wants more than to keep long standing employees, but guess what? The economy is soft, we cant afford to keep everyone employed.

    If I had to let someone go because there was not enough work and they had worked with me for 10 years, and I had to pay 10 weeks or more severance that would make a serious dent (dont forget, they had to go because I have no work and no income) In my business and would likely cause more layoffs or closure. The severance payments would in turn wipe me out. 

    Not every working person can expect (or possibly deserve) a job that allows them to buy a house, have two cars and keep their spouse home to raise the three kids. 

     

  29. Anonymous says:

    Yup. Carry on government. One more step like this without actually bothering to protect the ability for your people to make money in the first place (e.g. limited number of businesses licenses etc) and my family will no longer be able to provide employment to locals, but will be needing money from you to live. We have worked hard all our lives and you just keep on taking away and throwing away. So many people whose lifestyles have been radically worsened through dumb steps like these without thinking it all through.

  30. Anonymous says:

    As a business owner and member thank you Johan for delivering another reality check to government

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup lay off civil servants and let us continue to pay slave wages in the private sector. Now that is a formula for success!

  31. noname says:

    This labor minister is hopeless. The chamber has every right to ask questions on behalf of its members. Everything she has touched has turned into a mess from day one 

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah and they are both C4C, which is somewhat telling and not to give the other political parties endorsement on this issue, it is important that the C4Cwas opposed to a minimum liveable wage requirement for employees. While business interests in Cayman are to be considered it is the unfair, underhanded and unethical practices by the powerful elite within the myriad categories of the business community of the Cayman Islands that a large portion of the blame can and should be squarely laid for the maladies within the labour market of our country. That a possibly even larger portion of the blame lies at the feet of the government and successive administrations is and should be a given notwistanding, the business community should be made to understand that the negative consequences of the status quo (which affect all and sundry in one way or another) is unacceptable. One problem is that those making the rules are not held accountable, nor are the ones who are supposed to be enforcing the rules held accountable. Whether or not the present minister in charge is the right person for the job is questionable in the least being a factor of this scenario being something not to be ignored, it is the greed inherent within far too much of our business community that has caused the problem to begin with. It is how the least of us within our all too stratified social ladder are treated which shall dictate the overall health of our economy and our collective society. The chamber of commerce is of worth in our overall societal equation but the heavy hitters within our society cannot be allowed to continue to run roughshod over the labour pool (both foreign and domestic) without an inevitable further negative consequence to the overall community which makes up the Cayman Islands. One only has to see the blatherings on this website by very anti-Caymanian expatriates followed by comments regarding the hitting of an airplane door on one's butt on their way out of the Cayman Islands to see the evidence of the divisive, destructive and maladourous consequences which result when the lowest on our economic scale (once again both foreign and domestic) are not treated fairly and with the dignity that all deserve and which will continue to fester unless and until these issues are dealt with forthrightly and with an even hand. Whether or not that will actually happen within our institutionally corrupt society is another story and one for which there is nary a little hope for optimism is present save for some posturing and useless lip service.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh it is clear you have an agenda! And it has nothing to do with protecting the rights of employees. Minister Rivers is the only one willing to tackle the real issues and call it like it needs to be said. But alas, the machinery to ensure that this country gets no real change for the good is hard at work trying to discredit everything she does.