Schools talks collapse

| 25/09/2009

(CNS): UPDATED- 6:00pm: Following reports on CNS this morning that the general contractor Tom Jones International (TJI) had stopped work at the John Gray High School development project today (Friday 25 September) after talks with government turned sour, the education minister has denied owing the contractor money. In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Rolston Anglin said all payments due to TJI for the schools had been paid and the cessation of work by the contractor was premature.

A spokesperson for Tom Jones International said the firm would not comment on the statement at this time but CNS understands the dispute has resulted in severe job losses.

Despite earlier suggestions in the week that negotiations over the latest unpaid bill were amicable and heading for resolution, the two sides are now in full disagreement. Anglin said in his statement that to date, all payments due in respect of both contracts for John Gray and the Clifton Hunter schools are current and have been paid.

"Tom Jones International has now stopped work at the John Gray campus. However, the next payment for this project is not due until 10 October," Anglin said.  "The cessation of work by the general contractor is therefore premature and in breach of contract. As such, any costs associated with work stopping will be Tom Jones International’s responsibility. There are clear contractual terms for the settlement of disputes, including mediation, which have not been followed by the general contractor. The cessation of work has circumvented these terms."

Anglin referred to reports regarding payment being withheld due to technicalities and said government believes that all payments must be diligently scrutinised and only made when appropriate. "This is not simply a technicality," he said. "He acknowledged the risk to jobs at the site and said their preservation had been an important consideration and one of the reasons why the government made every effort to assist the general contractor in continuing the projects.

Although TJI said they were not commenting yet, Alan Roffey of Andro Group stated that he has now had to lay off more than forty workers, many of whom are Caymanian. Earlier in the week East End Brokers confirmed well over a hundered worker were losing their jobs as a result of the dispute. Despite government claims that the money is not owed, Roffey says the independent survey says different and if there are reasons why the government shouldn’t be paying they should be made clear.

"If the government has real reasons, why wait until the last minute?" asked Roffey, who is very upset by the situation and who as a sub-contractor is paid directly by TJI. "We ought not to be expected to have to be in the middle of this problem. The government has an independent surveyer and they say the money is due."

Roffey said he wished the whole situation had been more open and reasonable and he lamented the secrecy surrounding the dispute, especially as it impacts local sub-contractors.

Others have agreed and said that it seems government has shifted its position from “can’t pay” because of a lack of funds to “won’t pay” because of contract dispute.

The halting of the project will result in considerable job losses and financial losses to a number of sub-contractors and will create a number of technical probles even if it restarts . Roffey explained that once work stops it loses momentum and will take weeks to get back on track.

Although the minister stated that there were clear ways of settling disputes, including mediation, CNS was old by a sub-contractor that mediation had been sought but the two sides could not agree on where the mediators should come from. It is also reported that TJI has taken out a considerable bridging loan which was meant to keep the project going even though government had not met its payments on the basis that once government received the OK for its borrowing all the contractors would be paid.

Although work was continuing at the Frank Sound where the new Clifton Hunter School is being constructed, reports suggested yesterday that the next major payment date for that project is only seven days away.

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  1. Mahogany Pt Man says:

    They can say what they want about Ezzard but some people in the PPM need to explain exactly How this Tom Jones business go and why things are the way they are come on now Kut tell your boss to tell his inlaw to stop this foolishness shame on you mannn! protecting Caymanians yeah right Big wheels and Big deals

  2. Mr. Accountable says:

    Anyone who has been an MLA for more than just this term is to be held accountable. Whether you were the standing Government or a member of the Opposition. The Financial Secretary should be removed with immediate effect and stripped of any future benefits due to him.

    Stop the blame crap and do something about it you bunch of useless wasters.


  3. da wa ya get says:

    CNS and it’s readers should check this out :

    It’s seems Richard Murphy is already gloating, his blog is entitled, "Cayman begins descent into chaos".

  4. Stella says:

    Fees for local schools should be means tested.  That would pay for a large chunk of the education budget.  There are plenty of rich people who send their kids to these free schools.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So Rollie, where is the DER in all of this?  It maybe, just maybe, that if you look deeper into what is going on  … with some of the players, you might find some interesting answers in connection with this situation. Remember to always check from the top down. You are smart so go figure it out!

  6. Anonymous says:

     performance bond

    is a surety bond issued by an insurance company or a bank to guarantee satisfactory completion of a project by a contractor.

    For example, a contractor may cause a performance bond to be issued in favor of a client for whom the contractor is constructing a building. If the contractor fails to construct the building according to the specifications laid out by the contract  the client is guaranteed compensation for any monetary loss up to the amount of the performance bond.

    Performance bonds are commonly used in the construction and development of real property[1], where an owner or investor may require the developer to assure that contractors or project managers procure such bonds in order to guarantee that the value of the work .In other cases a performance bond may be requested to be issued in other large contracts besides civil construction projects.

    Performance bonds have been around since 2,750 BC and, more recently, the Romans developed laws of surety around 150 AD[5], the principles of which still existance bond


  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know whether Wendy will allow this to be posted here but I was not surewhere else to put it.

    In seeing the posts here relating to the fates of the families of the workers being laid off I am reminded of what a valuable service CNS offers to the community.

    I have decided that from now on that when I have a choice I am going to buy from merchants who support CNS with their advertising whether it is where I buy my lunch or where I bank. I am going to make it a point to let management in each of these businesses know that I made my decision to deal with them because I read their ad on CNS. Hopefully that will do something to support this valuable service. I would encourage everyone who enjoys this forum to do the same.

    Thank you Wendy – you must be working all hours God sends these days. Hopefully you can post this somewhere.

    • Carol Hay says:

      Hear Hear.  I think Wendy and Nicky are doing a wonderful job but they need our support to keep CNS alive and offer more services down the road.  If you can’t afford to advertise you can always send them sponsorship money.  As CNS so cleverly put it, "the free press is NOT free!"

    • Anonymous says:

      What an excellent idea! 🙂  I will do the same.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Other than the obvious – what amazes me? The fact that this government can’t even organise something as arbitrary as mediation talks! Although, I really shouldn’t be surprised considering the abysmal attempt to make negotiations with the UK and the horrifying display this LOGB demonstrates daily on radio talk shows. I can just imagine it. Yelling, screaming and ending in "your an idiot. I won’t pay a red cent."- he does it so well… the man who represents this country to world… I shudder at the thought.

    My best wishes and prayers go out to the companies and workers that are being shafted. I do hope that this matter can be resolved to the satisfaction of all involved.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The Contractors are stopping work because Government do not have the money to continue dishing out to them.

    Has the Contractors given value for what they already collected.

    Someone needs to have a good look at that aspect of the contracts.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is obviously a sign of the times, that none of the posts here, express sympathy for the 100 men, many of which will have families to feed, who have just lost their job.

    This is a typical trait of a unique bunch of residents on Cayman, which is really unfortunate. But to those select people, I have only one thing to say, ‘ what goes around, comes around’. This slowdown, aint going to miss you, no matter what you do, or what industry you are in.

    Tender levels for large scale construction projects are being re-negotiated globally with 30-40% reductions. TJI and the CIG, should have re-negotiated to keep this project going, in the interests of the Cayman Islands. The recession was a good opportunity for the goverment to develop a state of the art school, at a fantastic price.

    Why on earth, there were disputes weeks ago, for wages of CI$16 per hour, I can never begin to understand. A good mediator, could have helped the people invloved understand that although wages would be reducing, men would still be employed, albeit at a much lower rate.

    Why the hell, Ezzard Miller and his companion was there protesting on behalf of the employee demands beggars belief. They are the client, they should be looking after the wider effects of society, and ensuring government pays a fair price for this school within the current environment.

    • Homies on the North Side says:

      "Why the hell, Ezzard Miller and his companion was there protesting on behalf of the employee demands beggars belief."  Why is that a shock?  Ezzard will happily say anything that goes down well on Rooster.

      • Anonymous says:

        If that is the case, then he should stick to the Rooster. He is meant to be an elected official of the Cayman Islands, looking after the interests of the electorate in North Side and more importantly the Caymanian people.

        If he wants to become a Union Member for 20 construction workers from East End, get him off the Government payroll….. TWIT!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Ezzard cares about his North Side people, that’s why. At least he is one politician who works for his monthly salary and seeks to do whatever he can to keep people from North Side employed and will defend their position when necessary.

        About his appearance on Rooster – most of what he says goes down well on Rooster because it is real to Caymanians.  I, like many Caymanians, are heartened to hear one politiian who has the brass to stand up in defence of Caymanians and is not afraid of the "foreign vote".

        Thank you Ezzard! Keep up the good work man .. the criticism on here only highlights the good work you are doing for your people! [ I am thinking about relocating to NS so that I will be able to vote for him next election]. lol

        • Anonymous says:

          Ezz-ezz cares for his North Side people?? He is so far up the udp’s buttocks that is unable to see what is best for anyone! He is blinded by loyalty to Bushy-bush, which he has admitted (independent my backfoot), & is therefore unable to care for anyone but himself & McKeeva Bush.

          T. Bramble

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is horrible news for a lot of construction workers, especially expats that are now forced to leave cause their permit has expired – literally families maybe split up.

    Too bad for all the property owners as well — there goes your tenants and now you might have to pay tax on the empty condo/house/apartment.

  12. Caymanians for Good says:

    Both Schools need to be delayed by a minimum of 6 months. It is crazy that they continue with these types of works given the situation. new glass house also. The governments idea to do infrastructural works liek cumber avenue drainage is madness this year..just promise those residents if they are flooded government will pay 75 % of cost ..that will be a fraction of the new works and secondly unlikely to happen.

    Now it is time to cut the civil service…and here is how….Clearly there are a lot of good, hard working and efficient folks working in the civil service. The problem is they are painted with the same brush as the bad ones. Government should put in place an Anonymous mailbox that civil servants can complain privately about their co-workers and their output. If there are more than 2 or 3 complaints about anyone they are put on a special list. Those folks on the list are screened and watched for efficiency. That list become the bubble list for firings. lets try that now and trim the civil service.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you have any idea how much delaying the schools will end up costing the government?  The contract will double!  The ex-pats will all go home because they won’t have work permits and TJI will have to pay to fly them back, put them up in housing, and buy new permits all over again.  Do you think that will be at their expense?  No, because they aren’t the ones who signed a contract to build two schools knowing that they couldn’t afford it.  They will pass those expenses onto the gov’t along with storage costs for their tools and supplies, etc…  It will literally cost us double or more.  And in the meantime, there will be hundreds of people not able to put food on the table.  

      What should we do?  We should build a casino!  If they go against your morals, don’t go in them.  The revenue just from the tourists would be tremendous and help to save the jobs.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Why build Casinos. Just complete the schools and use the buildings for Casinos until they are needed for education purposes.


  13. Anonymous says:

    My belief is that most of the violent criminals are not workers at any job site.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Given that the CI gov’t hasn’t the capacity to settle accounts, it’s surprising that TJI and Andro carried on after the first delinquent invoice.  

    • Anonymous says:

       They were promised the money in a signed letter of intent.  If you can’t trust the government’s word, who’s can you trust?  Also, both TJI and Andro have made financial sacrifices to keep there employees working as long as possible.  Isn’t that a good thing?  

  15. Anonymous says:

    Look at the message that this government is sending out to the world, "We can’t even afford to pay our suppliers for contracts we have underway"

    What a shambles! No wonder the UK is worried about bailing us out. It’s a reality, we are the laughing stock of the world!

    • Anonymous says:

      You should slap yourself as hard as you can.  It is obvious you are not of this world.  Did you say "this Government?"

      Idiot!!!  It is the previous Government that has put us in this mess!  They should have been balancing the books instead of drinking every penny away at Dirty Reids!

      • Anonymous says:

        If you learnt to read and stopped being a f***wit, you would have seen that my comment refers to the government which is very publicly playing out this whole charade. Regardless of who put us in this mess in the first place, the current rulers are showing the country up as a laughing stock now by not paying suppliers, publicly threatening not to pay staff etc.

        You are partly right that the previous government did put us in the mess, but it has taken years of corruption, greed, incompetence and mis-management of resources to bury us this deep.

        So rather than being a pedophile, don’t turn this to politics. Either party are as bad as each other. There was no candidate in the election with even an ounce of common sense or economic awareness, so you’ve taken the best of a bad lot.

        So to confirm my previous post, the current government shouldn’t be airing the country’s dirty linen in public, it makes the whole place look like a laughing stock, putting off potential investors and giving fodder for the people that want to see Cayman fail.

        So give yourself a slap andnot your wife for a change.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Alden

    This is what happens when you you say stuff like "only God can stop me"

    • Anonymous says:

      I remember that doozie – Alden thinking that he’s in league with the Almighty and the rest of us all mere mortals…  Well, well, how things change.  Unless you’re blind, dumb, and deaf, it’s hard to ignore Alden’s fall from grace.  Where is Alden now?  Has anyone heard him contribute his usual meaningless and irrelevant bit lately?  Is he busy on the phone with overseas consultants who are going to charge further million of dollars to plan Alden’s next set of buildings?

  17. Anonymous says:

     A lot more people will be out of work!  If the Gov’t woud come up with any type of game plan at all the UK would back the loan they need to get back on their feet.  But you can’t just expect the UK cosign a $300 million loan with no plan of action.  And obviously their current game plan isn’t working.  

    If bringing in casinos is against Cayman morals, then why don’t we just not go to them and let the Ex-pats lose all of their $$$ to them?


  18. Common sense says:

    All over the world buildings – both public and private – are standing unfinished because either the private developer or government has run out of money to pay for them. Why should we be any different? Believe it or not we don’t live in a magic bubble that protects us from world economic forces.

  19. TruthBtold says:

    So more people are out of work… wonder if there will be another crime spike this weekend….