Workers back on school site

| 21/08/2009

(CNS): Following a dispute between General Contractor Tom Jones International and labour sub-contractor East End Steel at the Clifton Hunter school site in which Caymanian workers were caught in the middle, the two parties said today (Friday 21 August) that they have resolved their disagreements. TJI and East End Steel said they had both met with members of government and reached an agreement in principle with regards to the provision of labour for the site and that Caymanians would be keeping their jobs.

According to workers who were protesting on the site earlier this week, TJI was trying to push out Caymanian labourers to replace them with cheaper overseas labour. The sub-contractors told NEWS27 earlier this week that TJI had told them that they wanted to lower the rate for their workers and had then sent an email terminating the contract accusing them of not paying health insurance and pensions.  Some labourers also said that they had been offered jobs directly by TJI cutting out their employer, East End Steel.

In a statement following the meeting, which was believed to have taken place at the Department of Employment Relations, between the two sides and government, Tom Jones International said that all Caymanian workers would remain employed at the Clifton Hunter site and that they had returned to work on 20 August.

With accusations flying back and forth before the mediation after the meeting, East End Steel issued a separate statement saying that it had since discovered that the accusations made against TJI that it was trying to replace Caymanians with ex-pats was not true. “There have been a number of allegations made with respect to Tom Jones International,” the statement read. “After reviewing the matter and meeting with Tom Jones International we have learned that these statements are not true and are unfounded. We are pleased to further confirm that having resolved our differences we will continue our relationship with Tom Jones International, who we believe to bean important and upstanding member of the Caymanian community.””

However, this is by no means the first time that TJI has faced such accusations. Almost since the work started on the Clifton Hunter Schools there have been accusations that Caymanians were not being employed and ex-pat labour was being shipped in. In April this year, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, who was at the time campaigning for the seat he was to win as an Independent candidate, took up the cause of a number of Caymanian workers who were similarly caught in the middle of a dispute between TJI and another sub-contractor, Moises.

On that occasion TJI accused Moises of over-charging on sub-contracted hours and then stopped paying the firm, who were then in turn unable to pay their workers. On that occasion, TJI re-hired some of the Caymanian workers and at the time the DER requested that the Immigration Department halt the issuance of any new work permits to TJI until a complete investigation into the rehiring of all those workers was investigated. It is understood that all those who wanted to work on the site were eventually either re-hired directly or through other contractors. TJI has always insisted that it is employing a majority of Caymanian workers on the site.

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  1. Got u says:

    If you expats are really being treated worse then we Caymanian, you need to speak out.

    Get even after you received your last pay cheque, write a letter to the Caymanian Compass and explain what has happen to you.  What the hell, they can’t fire you. 

    When I see this happen thats when I will believe that you expats are being treated worse/badly.

  2. Anonymous says:

    "<em>I do know that there are numerous and repeated instances of Caymanians being treated extremely poorly and being unfairly marginalised by unscrupulous mainly expat dominated employers.</em>"

    Just for the record, I am an expat employee and they treat us even worse.  You can go get a job anywhere.  I can either suck it up or leave. 

    I’m not saying that it’s right what they do, but it’s not like you’re alone in this.

  3. Ball-Head (retired) says:

    Well done Government. Now beware. I watched one of the workers on TV borrow the words from Bob Marley and exclaim "We’ve got to chase these crazy ball-heads out of Town".  If you know your Jamaican history these words should cause serious concern.


    Unless Caymanians are able to participate at all levels of this economy the sentiment will grow. I know little about Tom Jones. I do know that there are numerous and repeated instances of Caymanians being treated extremely poorly and being unfairly marginalised by unscrupulous mainly expat dominated employers. Don’t let Jamaica happen here. Enforce the immigration law and welcome and embrace those expats who are willing to welcome and embrace the Caymanian people,  and we still have a chance.

  4. The Force says:

    The DER, under its current director, is a complete waste of time.  Recently, when the Ritz was putting on a job fair they notified that department, which was the correct thing to do.  However, they did not consider that it was their job to get the word out to the hundreds of unemployed persons listed with them.

    It is an important government but unless there is an overhaul and removal of some of the seat warmers then it’s just another waste of money.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have also heard that there seems to be much resistance by the DER to do anything against Tom Jones Intl.  The PPM installed the new Director, right?  Is his last name Tibbetts?  Makes sense.  Does anyone know who the Caymanian partners are of Tom Jones International?  If all these people have some relationships then it all makes sense.  Alden was so bent on getting this contract awarded that it makes people wonder.

    Watch out people.  Do not take away the powers of Immigration.  If you let the DER take over issuance of permits then there is room for much more of this type of situation to occur.  The PPM keeps making its bad mark.  People, if you know anything that the public must know then do the country a favour and publish it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh come on… you have any more information to tie this together than last names?!?!  No, your argument does not make sense.  If we had to hang for ‘sins’ of those with similar last names everybody in Cayman would be doomed.  If you have more information to substantiate your claim then post it, otherwise your reasoning sucks!

      Alden was the first one to explore litigation against TJI regarding the potential breach of contract.  What’s your nonsensical hypothesis on how that proves something sinister?


  6. Anonymous says:

    Well done to these guys, getting there jobs back. Let’s face it, it could only happen in Cayman. These guys wouldn’t gain employment in any other construction site in the world..

    Let’s hope they start understanding that the Government is not only there, to provide a job for them…. But they have to actually start working and producing…. 


  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, thanks to government but that does not mean the Dept of Employment Relations. From what I understand there was little effort made by that department to help Caymanians in this dispute and some of the other people involved have been voicing their concern about who the DER is supposed to be protecting in this. Another reason why government better be very cautious about removing work permits from immigration and take care about whose hands they will be putting them in.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to govt for taking a hard line on this issue. It gives us hope.

    • East Ender says:



      Well done East Enders etc, stand up for your rights this is our country & all the shit been happen far too long.

      Just be careful now remember this crew is walking on thin ice the least slip that will be a good excuse for Thom Jones to kick the crew out for good.