Low pay persists with no sign of minimum wage

| 11/02/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman jobs(CNS): With no minimum wage in place, the problem of low pay persists, raising concern in the community that people will be driven to commit crime to survive. Speaking at the media briefing on Tuesday afternoon, the premier warned employers that theywould not get work permits if they do not pay ex-pat workers a salary that they can live on. He said no one should be expected to work for as little as $4 or $5 per hour and that, while government was not going to introduce limits, the law demanded that people have enough to support themselves. However, with no minimum wage planned, there is still nothing to force employers to pay local staff a liveable salary.

McKeeva Bush said that, while employers are pushing for clear positions from government, they must equally be straightforward in their dealings and give work to local people. He said some employers claimed they would not employ Caymanians because they won’t work for 4 or 5 dollars an hour.

“No one in the Cayman Islands should have to work for 4 or 5 dollars an hour. It is simply impossible, given our cost of living, for anyone to survive on such a wage,” Bush declared.

“We will be instructing our boards to be mindful of the fact that, prior to issuing a work permit, they must be convinced that the person can afford to support himself and any dependants whilst working here. If not, either the employer must pay more or the work permit must be refused.”

The issue of a minimum wage has been in contention for several years, and while the previous government had vowed to introduce one as they supported the principle, they failed to deliver. The current government says it has no plans to enforce a minimum wage, leaving not just ex-pats vulnerable to exploitation but local workers as well.

News 27 spoke to a number of people who are at the bottom of the pay scale and who, even after a full week’s work, are not taking home enough to live on. Security guards are particularly vulnerable, but low pay is not limited to that industry with many locals as well as foreign workers struggling to make ends meet.

See News 27 video

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What strikes me as being so very unfair is that our "illustrious" premier wants to ensure that ex-patriates are paid more than $4.00 per hour, but no one in Government wants to admit that when I was forced into retirement, I am expected to live off CI$56.00 per month pension.  That cannot even buy sufficient food for one day, but everyone in the Government that I contacted, including the F. S., either lied to me or came right out and told me that I could not get the balance of my pension.  I guess it is true that Cayman is certainly not for "Caymanians".

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes it’s time for a minimum wage in Cayman. Across the world, every country has a percentage of thier population of unskilled or uneducated workers, that still deserve a decent wage for a hard day’s work.

    It will always be easy to recruit employees from other countries pay them minimal wages, have them sacrifice a comfortable life style for a planned time to send money home,, cayman dollar worth so much more,,,,but with minimal spending back into our own economy,,

    Something we in cayman have to understand and instill in our youth is the concept of "living within your means",,,  if you want something,, work for it,,, nothing is free in life these days.

    I am saddened to read that people actually believe that those who turn to crime do so because they are trying to "live" or "survive",, pay rent,, buy food, etc..  it’s a sad but true statistic that most petty crimes involving theft are still people looking for money to fuel thier addictions.(and they need help too)

    we need to re educate our youth about rewarding occupations.  i can’t remember that last time i called a plumber or electrican that came to my home that was a young caymanian…

    how about hospitality?  does anyone realize how much money a good bartender or server makes?  yes it’s long hours, hard work,, weekends, holidays, etc,, but the financial and personal rewards are worth it…

    don’t look at the job as "serving",, look at it as entertaining guests, sharing your  island, etc,, trust me big bucks to be made!!

    we can’t all be lawyers, bankers and accountants,, there are other  opportunities out there,,,

    there are no easy answers to our increasing problems in cayman,, but allowing people to work for a decent wage has to be a beginning!!







  3. Anonymous says:

    What they need to do is increase the employer’s salary in order to pay a domestic helper. If someone is receiving $2300 per month to care care of a child, rent/mortgage and utilities, the child’s/children school fee, then its pretty difficult to pay more. So this needs to go across the board!

  4. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion the immigration board has no authority to disapprove an applicant’s work permit solely on the basic of minimum wage. Regulations 20. (1), of the Cayman Islands Labour Law (2007 revisions) state “Subject to subsection (2),the Governor may, by Order, prescribe a National Minimum Basic Wage”, so until such time “legally” the Board in my opinion is hamstrung.  Advising the board to disapprove an application because of wages may pose significant challenge as section 28. (1) of the Labour Law states “The remuneration payable under a contract of employment may be paid in money or in kind, which expression means payment by the provision of food, a dwelling place or such other allowances and privileges as may be agreed in the contract of employment.

    While I believe it is imperative for persons to receive reasonable wages, I am also mindful of the causes as some regulatory bodies do not appear to be carrying out their duties in accordance with applicable Laws/Regulations. Some of our Laws/Regulations contain adequate provisions but since they aren’t properly upheld, some employers continue to exit while mandating substandard means to employees.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry but you are wrong. Section 44 requires the Board to, amongst other things, determine that the expatriate receives enough salary to ensure they can maintain an adequate standard of living for themselves and their dependants (and have adequate housing, pensions, health insurance etc.)


      It also requires the protection of local interests. Funny that.

      • Anonymous says:

        While I agree with you to an extent, the law states “the sufficiency of the resources or the proposed salary of the worker and, where his spouse is employed within the Islands, those of his spouse, and his or their ability to adequately maintain his or their dependants”. Therefore, in my opinion, the Regulatory Authority should only disapprove an application, in this regard, if they are satisfied that a worker wont be able to adequately maintain themselves and dependant(s). If a worker is compliant with minimum provisions of applicable laws and they prove that they can maintain themselves and dependants on four (4) dollars an hour, in my opinion they are in compliant with the Law. Personally I do not agree with persons being paid a mere four dollars an hour BUT THAT IS THE LAW. Minimum wages can be regulated given there are provisions within the Labour Law for doing so. Some individuals within our community reluctantly continue to demonstrate living on a mere 4 or 5 dollars an hour.

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you for engaging. The Boards have a wide discretion. Even though no minimum wage has ever been formally set, if the boards are charged with "the protection of local interests" and considering "such other matters as arise from the application" then – if they know or suspect that we are importing poverty (and view this as negative) and further know or expect that the ability to employ foreign nationals on a less than living wage is preventing or otherwise discouraging Caymanians from applying for the positions, it is perfectly appropriate for them to seek to prevent the grant of a p[ermit on the basis "the pay and other remuneration is, in our considered view, inadequate, to ensure the worker and local interests (including those of prospective Caymanian employees) are being protected.  

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh yea?  Well, do it and wait until they go and complain to the politicians, including the Premier, who are supposed to be looking after the rights of Caymanians. I wonder how many calls and other communication is sent to the board members pleading the case of these foreigners. You write like you have inside knowledge and if so you should know better.

            • Anonymous says:

              I do not care who they complain to. If I was on the Board and I made a determination that was in the interests of both Caymanians and underprivileged workers subject to abuse, and was consistent with the Law, and then a politician pressured me, CNS and the Governor would both be invited to a press conference PDQ.  

  5. au revoir says:

    so much rott and pure exploitation underneath the veneer…

  6. Anonymous says:

    CI$5.00 an hour (CI$240 per week/CI$1040 per month) is reasonable pay for a domestic helper. More than reasonable if they are live-in.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Actually, if Mac was concerned he wouldn’t have allowed the Ritz to pay such SMALL wages…..$7 per hour US…pretty paltry.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Minimum wage will probably never happen since so many people that make the laws have their own bussiness to look after. It’s the same as the severance package. You can work for a company 20 years, if they terminate you, they only have to pay for 12 or 10 years. Too many conflicts of interest. Just another reason for so many social problems.

  9. Anonymous says:

    crime is not caused by low wages… thats just a cop-out

    want proof? look at the thousands of asians on this island who are earning some of the lowest wages and they are able live clean, simple, modest lifestyles and do not resort to crime.

    • Anonymous says:

      Asians are no different from persons of other races here, many are law abiding but they do have their share of persons commiting crime as well. So, please do not bring race into this. I do, however, agree that low pay rates is not the cause for crime it is only an excuse for those of a criminal mind to behave in that way.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What is outrageous is the great Cayman love of Christianity yet Caymanians bring in third world labor and treat them not much better than indentured servants and pay them wages no local person could live on and if there are any complaints the workers are thrown off the island.

    It doesn’t sound like the Christianity of which I was raised.

    No doubt they sing the loudest on Sundays.

  11. CaymanLover says:

    "No-one in the Cayman Islands should have to work for 4 or 5 dollars an hour…."

    If an employer is seedy enough to pay someone this crap wage do you really think that threatening to withold work permit grants will make any difference?

    All the employer will do is tell Immigration theyre paying the employee more and still pay them peanuts.  You can’t just tell people to ‘play nice’.  If youre so concerned that there is no minimum wage then INTRODUCE ONE!! 

    I don’t understand how we can just simply not have some of the basic rules in place to protect people against exploitation.  I’m so angry I could scream.  I wish I could do something, obviously typing isnt working.



    • Pending says:

      The fact of the matter is that this will continue as no one in Government (currently or previously) will do anything to make the necessary changes.

      I am a Caymanian, and I have had to work for years at base rate salary, which would get me through the first couple of weeks in the monthh, if that, before I was completely broke. I had to go through 4 years of University before I was even considered for anything above the bottom of the pile.

      Big Mac merely lammenting on the subject is a waste of time, as previous administrations have done the same but to no avail.

      The fact is that foreigners (who are desperatley needed by Cayman to fill the workforce) will continue to be exploited till the end of time, and it will be pushed under the rug by all.

      Another FACT, Cayman is one of maybe 10 countries in the WORLD that does not have a minimum wage in place.

      FACT, perhaps if there was a minimum wage in place, Caymanians might get hired over foreigners who come here seeking work as the employer might be unwilling to pay out for a permit annd then pay minimum wage, which would need to be at least $10…..

  12. Anonymous says:

    What about the security companies whomake their employees pay for their Work Permits??? They get away with it  because the employees are afraid to say anything.  How about the company who pays their employees 3.00 an hour?  A pretty well know security company that seems to get away with alot!!! 

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t forget the construction companies.  I know oodles of Masons and Labourers pay for their own permits… well, the employer pays, and then deducts the money from their wages – disgusting!

      • Anonymous says:

        As of March 1st the Trade and Business Licensing Secretariat will be integrated into the new Department of Commerce & Investment. What I don’t understand is – How is it that Trade & Business, under the Department of Immigration, has allowed certain business licenses to continue after numerous violations of the law. I have even heard where employers have sexually harrassed employees. They’ve reported it to the authorities, and to this day, they still operating a business to exploit others!

        I just hope Trade and Business new move means new enforcement policies are put in place! It makes me think certain individuals get away because of monetary influences – I hope not! 

  13. Buh... says:

    Why is Mac talking about it, if he aint gonna do nothing? We all know that that he could put something in place if he really wanted.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wish for once that we would elect a Government that would have the guts to introduce a minimum wage. I know that Mr. Bush is not afraid to take the bull by the horns and I truly wish that  he would deal with this issue during his term of Premier. 

      The only reason employers are importing cheap labour is so they can pay them $4.50 – $5 an hour.

      Let’s set a minimum wage of, say, $10 an hour, or better yet, set minimun wages in tiers, depending on the category of work that the person does.


    • Anonymous says:

      You are right.  If he can sell permanent residence he can put in place a minimum wage to benefit Caymanians and foreign workers alike. Yet .. we ask too much and have nothing but our honest labour to give in return.