TJI cuts own workforce

| 23/11/2009

(CNS): There is still no good news for the hundreds of workers laid off due to the standstill on the school projects after the general contractor downed tools some ten days ago.  Tom Jones International walked off the job on 13 November claiming the government did not have the resources to complete the two new high schools. Since then the sub-contractors have been forced to lay off hundreds of local workers at a time when unemployment is running at an all time high for Cayman. CNS understands that TJI has now also laid-off the workers it was directly employing. (Left: the Clifton Hunter site is deserted after workers were laid off.)

Although a meeting was reportedly held between the contractor and the Ministry of Education last week, CNS has been informed that the meeting was held on a ‘without prejudice’ basis and should we report any details from it, the contractor’s lawyers have told CNS it will take legal action against us. TJI refused to comment about the number of workers it has let go or confirm any questions posed by CNS about the exact size of the payment it wanted to start work on the sites but made it clear the ball was in the ministry’s court.

“The company continues to be available to discuss a global resolution of all the issues relating to the school project,” a spokesperson for TJI said this weekend. “These issues would be resolved well before Christmas should the ministry so desire.”

With no sign of any advancement in the dispute, the ministry is also remaining silent on the issue, though CNS has submitted questions to the education minister on what he can do to get the project moving again. So far, Rolston Anglin has made no move to answer TJI’s long statement last week in which he offered his opinions about the schools and made it clear that unless he was to receive not just advance payments but some for financial security the project would not re-start. TJI said that it was not satisfied with a line item in the budget, which is all the guarantee that government was offering and was exercising its rights under the contract to ask government to provide assurance “in the form of a trust or a payment bond, that it has the financial wherewithal to meet on time its financial obligations to complete the schools. Government has steadfastly refused to provide such assurances,” the statement said

The impasse between the government and the contractor will not only undermine the projected completion date to have the schools open in time for the start of the 2010/11 school year, but it is also having a devastating effect on a number of local sub-contractors whose businesses are now also in jeopardy, as well as adding to the country’s growing unemployment problem.

This is the second time that TJI has walked off the site and the previous education minister confirmed to CNS last week that during his tenure the threats to down tools started around Christmas 2008. Alden McLaughlin denied being intimidated by TJI but said he did what he could from a practical standpoint to keep the schools on track.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bottom line here – if the government were able to post a bond showing ability to pay. TJI and all the subcontractors (some of whom ARE local Caymanian companies) would continue work on the sites.

    The fact that the government HAVEN’T issued that bond is worrying. Why would a business continue to operate at risk? If in fact the government can afford these buildings then they would issue that bond – think about it. The question here is ‘why wouldn’t they issue a bond?’

    For those ranting about work permits, crime & immigration you’re missing the point. These are highly skilled workers. The cayman are lucky to have a lot of these workers. The only reason most are willing to leave families behind is due to recessions & unemployment in their own countries.

    The days of making a fat pay check in Cayman are long gone. High rents while paying bills at home hardly make the Cayman appealing.

    Good luck getting the projects completed. Most of those highly skilled workers simply won’t return to the Cayman for work. It’s not the paradise you seem to think it is. Nice scenery yes. Nice weather yes. But the negatives are too great and unemployment…why travel to Cayman only to be unemployed and have the expense of getting back ‘home’. New workers take time – work permits have to be processed.

    Your builidings WILL get built eventually but at what cost? Less skilled work?

    Go that route and there will be inherrent problems that you have to repair or fix at a later date.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Send some to Puerto Rico, they are desperate for people to come and pick coffee beans. Seriously, they can’t find any workers so they have resorted to hiring prisoners (of course with guards) but they say it’s not enough – they need workers!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Government is just waiting until tourism drops way down low as it has in other islands (remember Jamaica in the 70-80s) due to crime. Tourists won’t want to come here. Cayman being touted as SAFE is one huge drawing card for many. No one wants to come to an island where there are burglaries, rape, shootings and murders to top it off! Soon this “paradise” as some call it will crumble unless the police, immigration and other sectors in the Government do something.

  4. Anonymous says:

    PPM! PPM! PPM!

  5. Anonymouse says:

    I have met a lot of people who are either TJI employees or their dependents at Rum Point on sundays.

    If they all leave Rum Point will become a Ghost Town. It is just so many people related to the TJI in one way or another.

    • Anonymous(=: says:

      If for no other reason I cant wait for rumpoint to become a ghost town again, God help us that live there, the filth and garbage that is left behind by you all is appalling. this Caymanian is asking for some sanity in my front yard. 

  6. The fine print says:

    Former minister McLaughlin has just released a statement which in many ways contradicts the statement from TJI of the reasons for the work stoppage. For one, TJI stated there were some $17 million dollars in change orders instigated by gorvernment. Mr. McLaughlin states most of these were from the contractor. He also believes the first work stoppages were related to the election as a means to extort additional money from the previous government. In order to keep proceeding the TJI requested the government sign a letter allowing TJI to obtain a $10 million dollar Line of Credit. This was not done under duress mind you as at this time Mr. McLaughlin states all payments to the contractor were up to date. These statements contradict TJI’s in significant ways. The other curiousity, although it may have no relevance is that David Legge has been the local spokesperson for TJI, and is also the local spokesperson for the development of the proposed hospital facility. Is there a connection between TJI and whoever will be building the new hospital as they both have the same spokesperson? There needs to be some clarification minus spin on where all of the parties stand with regard to these projects.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tom Jones was a good singer in his day but whatever gave him the idea that he should go into school construction in Cayman? It’s been a disaster. Stick to your crooning Tom!

    • Delilah says:

      Entertainers do get involved in other businesses – it is not unusual.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is what happens Alden when you don’t pay attention –

    Any way if – God forbid – you should ever form a Government in Cayman again then you can waste more money to build dream buildings with million dollar kitchens.

    For now – hope the UDP sorts out your mess.

  9. Anonymous says:

    For once I agree with one of the racist comments I see on here. There is going to be a large amount of unskilled foreign labourers roaming around the island looking for ways to make money for xmas. There’s no jobs around so we’re going to see a massive increase in burglaries, robberies and muggings in the coming months.

    Immigration should maybe charter flights to Jamaica, Phillipines and Honduras and remove some of these workers. The island is too small to support that amount of unemployed and desperate people.

    • anon says:

      "Immigration should maybe charter flights to Jamaica, Phillipines and Honduras and remove some of these workers"

      Why have you failed to include Americans, Canadians and Europeans…?

      What you’re doing is called Racial Profiling; I think you have gone overboard by bashing the men and women whom have served this country so well (with the exception of the very few that havegone on the wrong side of the law).

      Immigration should do their jobs, yes! however less fortunate persons should not feel victimized by racist such as your self….. at the end of it all, immigration should not send them off Island because of racial profiling, but because they no longer have a job as required by their work permit — I believe this should apply to all work permit holders.

      Equality for all!

      • Anonymous says:

        How many Americans, Canadians and Europeans were working on those sites. I’d hazard a guess at well under 1%. The overwhelming majority were from countries like Jamaica, Phillinines and Honduras where the couple of bucks an hour they earn working construction here is a lot to them at home and pays for their families. A construction worker from US or UK is not going to come here for a couple of bucks an hour, they can get more than that at home and get some human rights at the same time.

        Yes I agree that immigration needs to be firm all the way along the line, the same rules should apply to all work permit holders with no legal right to stay, but professional lawyers, accountants etc would move on straight away if they get laid off, they know they can move home or elsewhere in the world and earn a  good buck. It’s the construction workers and unskilled labourers that don’t have so many options.

        Engage your brain before writing. You think you were clever but didn’t think through what you were saying. Now go back to school, stop blaming everybody else for you being a loser and go out and earn an honest living instead of leeching off us expats.

  10. Grow some congas says:

    Come on, man up, Kick all of them off the island, the whole Tom Jones team.. Sort out some deal with Mcalpine or hadsphaltic or hurlston or Arch and Godfrey, any other one of the big local construction firms.. Money is Tight and im sure any one of them will take whatever dollar they can get right now.. They were just too damn greedy before with their high bids, im sure any one of those mentioned companies are drooling at the mouth waiting for a shot at this now for a MUCH lower bid!!

  11. Hmmmph says:

    This is so typical of commentors on here. No sympathy shown for the many who have lost their jobs 5 weeks before Christmas…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Please dont let words fly out of your mouths before your heads go in gear. Just remember that kicking these folks out of Cayman is not only hurting them, but remember that they help alot of us Caymanians by renting  etc from us. I FEEL VERY SORRY FOR THEM. I AM COMING FROM THE OLD HOSPITABLE CAYMANIAN SCHOOL.

    • Cayman mon! says:

      I do feel sorry for them yes!! It is horrible, and i would never WISH this to happen to me or anyone that i know or anyone for that matter, but drastic situations call for drastic measures.  Come back in a few weeks, a couple DAYS before christmas and tell me how you feel when one of these "poor desperate people" show up to your house to take all of YOUR christmas money/gifts.. That’s if you’re even still alive to comment on here! THINK before you blurt foolishness out!!   A desperate man is a DANGEROUS man!  Im not saying kick them off for good, just until TJI or whoever else sorts this mess out!  Lots of people including caymanians aren’t going to have the best christmas this year, life is full of rough spots, just gotta learn to live with it and roll on.. Hopefully it wont be their last christmas! At least they’ll get to spend christmas with their families and to some of them that is more valuable than money, sometimes even priceless!

  12. HOMER SIMPSON. says:

    Talking about shooting yourselfs in the foot. Also I feel bad for all the employees of TJI that have been laid off… regardless if they are on permit or not.  Keep in mind it’s really difficult to relocated families, and all this before xmas sucks.  People are People… put yourselves in there shoes.

  13. Realist says:

    Please don’t hold your breath – the hospital system is taxed enough without having to care for another patient… 

  14. Anonymous says:

    I hope that immigration will take note and ensure that TJI workers that are here on work permits now leave the Island because they no longer have employment.

    It will be interesting to see if immigration have the guts to remove these workers or will allow them to now job hunt thus creating greater unemployment for Caymanians.

    Cayman we do have interesting times ahead.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am in total agreement.  Immigration needs to crack down on work permit holders who are unemployed and also work permit holders who have two or three extra jobs that aren’t covered by their permit.

      Come on MLA’s do something!  The unemployment rate will definitely lead to a spike in crime.  Do something before it’s too late!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes it will be "interesting" to see if a Cayman goverment arm will actually do what it get paid to do.  Actually it would be shocking!  But thats the Cayman way.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anyone got any tips on how to get permits for the TJI ex-staff rather than having to look to someone who is probably long term unemployed for a reason?