LA silent on basic wage

| 27/02/2014

(CNS): The members of the PPM government all remained silent on Wednesday during the LA debate on a private member's motion regarding the minimum wage. Even though the Progressives' election manifesto clearly states that introducing a minimum wage would be an “early priority” for a PPM administration, following a long speech read by the employment minister criticising the concept and Ezzard Miller’s motion, making it clear that she was not about to introduce a basic wage any time soon, none of the other PPM members spoke on the issue. In closing the debate on the motion, which was voted down by the entire government, Miller reminded the government of its campaign promises.

Taking aim at the employment minister, the North Side member said that during the twenty years that parliamentarians have been wrangling over the minimum wage, he had never heard such a diatribe of excuses from a minister and even suggested that Tara Rivers' response on the minimum wage was even more convoluted than the one delivered by her predecessor, who was very well known for his long-winded meandering presentations to the LA.

Given the manifesto and campaign promises and the premier’s own oft repeated regrets about not implementing the minimum wage when he was labour minister between 2005 and 2009, Miller said that when he last brought this same motion to the LA, the premier had been very much in favour.

Hitting back at many of the objections to the motion raised by Rivers, Miller said most were excuses not genuine objections. One of the many examples he gave was the minister’s suggestion that a minimum wage could impact government finances and wage rates and that would have to be examined. Miller said if she didn’t know what that impact would be she could have just asked the finance minister over the weeks since the government postponed the private members motions in order to consider them.  If not, the rates were available on line, he said, as he pointedout that government’s lowest hourly rate is over $9.

He said the issues about domestics and measuring benefits in kind was already in the labour law so half of any basic wage could be in kind. He said the rate had nothing to do with hours or contracts of employment or any other element of working conditions.

Miller said that if Rivers had difficulties understanding what was meant by a minimum wage, it was simple: it was the lowest hourly wage rate people could expect to be employed. He said $5 was very basic and the government has had plenty of time to ask its experts and technocrats how that low basic rate would impact the economy.

He also pointed out that her fears about jobs being wiped out was unfounded. This was not the problem, Miller said, because there were 20,000 jobs already that Caymanians could not get, but a minimum wage might just change that for some.

After Miller had described the Progressive government a dozen times as the "Regressive" government because of its u-turn on the commitment, the premier called for a point of order from the speaker to prevent Miller from using the term again, as he said it was insulting and unparliamentary. After a consultation in the dictionary, the speaker agreed that the term was legitimate in context but the North Side member should not use it as an insult.

Miller pointed to the criticisms and insults to him from the employment minister, who had suggest Miller was an "arm chair economist", who had done no research into his desire to implement a minimum wage and had plucked it from the sky.

As the debate deteriorated into a disagreement between Miller and the premier, the independent member said it wasn’t him that took the debate “into the mud” but said he was not afraid to go there on behalf of his constituents, as he urged the government to implement a minimum wage and help the people.

The motion was voted down, with all 12 government MLAs voting 'no', despite their election commitments, versus the five opposition and independent members ‘yes’ votes.

The LA resumes Thursday at 10am with the continuation of the debate on OMOV and SMCs following the premier’s revelations that government is rethinking the approach to Cayman’s election landscape and voter equality.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This really is a no debate issue.

    We have a published list of companies who have been stealing for years from their employees by taking pension money that they didn't pay on. We know that job ads in the papers are full of crap, and immigration is unable to do unanounced onsite inspection of companies in regards to work permits, actual salary paid, health care coverage and pension and . What do you think having a minimum wage written into law would achieve?

    We first need to sort out the mess we have on our hands and clearly the current government demonstrates that they also are not interested to step on some toes, just like the previous governents before them.

    In this day and age, it should be a legal requirement that every employee can only be paid via direct transfer into their account, so that government can actually control what is indeed paid and that court ordered payments such as penalties, fines, child care or spousal support can be witheld from salary payment. But then again, who would be around to ensure that this actually would be done.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wait a minute. Isn’t a voted in government suppose to work for the people? Well with this kind of attitude I think a red slip should be handed out to them and then maybe when they stop getting a salary from us they will appreciate a minimum wage law at their new place of employment. Get them out now before they continue with this arrogant, selfish attitude and lead us straight to disaster. Hurricane ppm is already at a category 3 and gaining. Another waste of a vote.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And this is what they call a christian country.

    Me, me and only me.


  4. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands has been betrayed again!

    The PPM has betrayed their working poor supporters who were depending on them to change a system in which people coming from poor starving countries will take anything, live under any conditions, just to get a job, paying them anything.  Know what, the Cayman people have been shfted.

    Ezzard you know and understand our problems, thanks for trying.

    The oppressed Caymanians wlll wait.


    • Pat says:

      For Goodness sake!  The problem is not just wages!  Our economic problems are larger than that. We have businesses failing and that means no jobs!  I hope people see that there is a larger picture than just wages!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you think sitting on your butts and waiting for a government to give you anything you want in this country, you will wait forever.

      Caymanians, stand up! join forces, form your unions and boycot the issues. It is your civil rights. 

      Stop depending on these crooks that only looking out for the new comers with big money.

      It is plain to see, they have no intention of putting anything in place,  that will profit caymanians.

      Look at the construction industry, the locals built Caymans from the 70s. Now the foreigners that came and got status, have taken over the industry.

      Governments were told what was happening, and were asked to stop issuing these trades licenses.

      Only then did the government  sold morelicenses to stamp out the Caymanians. Now today  almost every long established, Caymanian  business are shutting down.

      It is the government's fault, why you all keep voting for them? we have to form our unions. dont let any jerk fool us that it takes money to do so.

      All we have to do is organise ourselves and come together for a common cause, to make our lives better. The government is not going to do it for you!! They are our biggest adversary!! They have become the enemy of the Caymanian people!

  5. Anonymous says:

    My worst workers get $10 per hour and they are worth only $5 i hope they set a minimum wage closer to the $5 and i will tell them thats the law that they voted for even though they did not bother to vote

    • WillYaListen! says:

      You sound as if you are someone who wouldn't give them $1 per hour if you could avoid it.

      Just rambling rubbish – and obvioulsy nothing more than that,

  6. WillYaListen! says:

    Would ALL politicians and Civil servants please tell us what they pay their helpers/gardeners/casual workers.? NET please.

    Would ALL service companies tell us how much they pay their staff and what they charge their clients? NET please.

    How many passports are held as surety by individuals and/or companies?

    Let's all go and see  "12 Years a Slave" and discuss OUR generous contribution to the less well off. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    The Cost of Living is Cayman's biggest issue. It too expensive to live. If reduced all will benefit, from low, mid, high -income households… stay-over tourists will spend more in stores as their dime streches further. Less expense on households, more money in savings account, burden lifted off government from supporting low-income households monthly bills. Certains crimes will even drop or, better yet, go away entirely. So many benefits… simple high school Social Studies teaches these things

    This is where the discussion should have started before it got a minimum wage motion!


    • WillYaListen! says:

      Have you considered addressing Harvard University or the Wharon School with this ground breaking economic theory? It's attraction is it's concept of obvious  simplicity  – it could revolutionize business worldwide.

      "Too expensive to live" is the core element. If that is the case we need to start getting rid of people. Like rollovers, cancellation of work permits  and just getting rid of people who disagree with you (like the good old days).

      Simple answers to a simple problem for simple people.

  8. Quote101 says:

    “The law says that here’s a man who has a skill that would justify a wage of $5 or $6 per hour (adjusted for today), but you may not employ him, it’s illegal, because if you employ him you must pay him $9 per hour [the set minimum wage]. So what’s the result?  To employ him at $9 per hour is to engage in charity. There’s nothing wrong with charity. But most employers are not in the position to engage in that kind of charity [by force]. Thus, the consequences of minimum wage laws have been almost wholly bad. We have increased unemployment and increased poverty.  Moreover, the effects have been concentrated on the groups that the do-gooders would most like to help. The people who have been hurt most by the minimum wage laws are the blacks. I have often said that the most anti-black law on the books of this land [the United States] is the minimum wage law.” – Milton Friedman, American economist, statistician, writer, University professor who was a recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can't believe uneducated folk don't know nothing about Milton Friedman.  Here, it seems like the more education you have the more dumb you are.

  9. Knock Wood says:

    So its right to pay someone 2 dollars an hour in the Cayman Islands ??????

  10. M. says:

    It looks like North Side MLA Ezzard Miller is up against the Minister of Employment Hon. Tara Rivers:

    Miller:  “Employers are allowed to import employees and pay them these ridiculously low wages which all of us know nobody can live reasonably well,” he said.

    But Minister Rivers:  “Simply, it’s not good enough to pluck a figure [$5 dollars minimum] from the blue sky and hope for the best,” she said, encouraging more research on how it will impact Cayman.

    All I have to say is this issue is a very sensitive one and I hope both the MLAs remember that it is really not about the money; it's about fairness and human dignity promoted in the Cayman Islands.

    In a way, I am sympathetic towards Miller, because he has a larger following behind him than Rivers pertaining to this issue and job related issues. This must have been a dissappointment to see the LA has once again reject a minimum wage or put it on the table for God knows when.

    But I like Rivers, she is young and outspoken. She is not afraid to stand on her own nor bark against the media. She is a thinker and I would rather see her re-elected than McKeeva Bush for the district of West Bay. Perhaps her party C4C will come up with good research on the minimum wage. Just because she is young and Miller is seasoned, doesn't mean that they can't come together and craft out a fit bill.

    Let us not just leave this issue on the table until the last minute; let us have whatever research that needs to be done and a closure. The Caymanian people deserve closure on this issue. They have been waiting for it for a long time. M.

    • Anonymous says:



      And its all the doing of our Immigration system, which  our past politicians made the laws for.

      That is why they can import cheap labour, they have to get past the immigration department, thats where the big problem lies.

  11. The Reality Is says:

    And here I am agreeing to this quote;

    "It is but equity…that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged." ~ 

    Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776. 


    This goes out to the people who take care of our needs. The nannies, helpers, caretakers etc. Should they not too have a good and above decent living? I think so. 

  12. David Shibli says:

    Come on guys, do SOMETHING! No one will fault you for trying, but it is this bull-headed inertia that is pissing everyone off. No matter what we voted, you are in power and if you cannot provide anything that you promised, then either the system is broken or you are just plain ignorant. Which is it? I guarantee that an election held next week would flush out this current crop of non-achievers. Oh David you are just over-reacting, give them time, etc etc, etc. What greater honour than to serve one's country? I speak to Caymanians every day who are passionate about their country and disillusioned with the leadership. Alden, I suggest you call the troops into a huddle and refocus on the election promises that you gave to trusting people. You will be judged by your words and your subsequent actions. So far, not so good. It's not too late. Give it a shot.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Those in government should take and make "minimum wage" and see how they fare!  Not all us are lucky to live on over $10K a month salary!!  PLUS PENSION. 

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am no PPM fan, but what they proved, is that when they have the facts they can change their stated position. Now if they would keep up this new found courage and change their position on DART’s waste management proposal for Bodden Town. Making sure it is centered around an enclosed sorting and recycling facility with only non recyclable material going into the new, properly lined and leachate processed landfill.

    • Anonymous says:

      The recyclers on island would be glad to do more recycling Dart is not need to take care of something like waste management ,remember he was not going to operate the new landfill

      It is up to people to do the recycling bottom line is that most people are too lazy to recycle

      I have yet to see any Govt officials at the local recyclers and i am friends with all of them If one were to come with there material it would be big news that said i did see that one official chatting with a recycler before the election

      Also realise recycling involves manual labor and i know most people dont want to do it otherwise they would come looking for work.

  15. Anonymous says:

    PPM you are so finished. Remeber what happened to UDP when they thought they were untouchable. Aleden and crew – especially the do nothing C4C rubbish warming the seats.What we need is not cynical lawyers and accountants but people with passion. There were quite a few who did not get in last time because of PPM's false promises.

  16. Keep it simple stupid says:

    There is certainly a" MORAL Minimum Wage"  that we all should adhere to.  I pay my helper from Jamaica CI$7.00 per hour and get my money's worth.  (I have paid less in the past and the lower wage has a direct correlation.)

    We SHOULD "shame" anyone who pays less than $5.00 and if you cannot pay $5.00 an hour you should not run a business or have a helper/gardener/nanny.

    Let's put this into persepctive.  A low income rental apartment cannot be found for less than $500 per month and we all know what CUC rates are for even basic refrigeration. $5.00 x 40 hour work week = $800 month living wage….That barely covers basic living:  anything less is morally wrong. 

    Sorry if people" on the dole" cant afford helpers and nannies…How riduculous!

    I am AGAINST minimum wage as I think it opens to the door to unions (and see how great they have been in the Caribbean or US auto industry?)

    So NO to minimum wage, but YES to a moral obligation to pay a decent living wage and shame any fat-cat who abuses basic human needs for greed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Talker!  At least EzzardMiller is willing to do something about it!

    • Anon says:

      I agree with your sentiments completely. Unfortunately, we cannot legislate morality so because we have so many without moral standards, we have to force them to do the right thing. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you. If you can't pay a helper at least $5 an hour then get off your lazy a$$ and do your own housework. This is exactly why I do it myself plus when I do get someone for a days work every now and again I end up doing it all over myself as I'm so damn hard to please and many short cut the work even when you do pay them nicely. 2 bed 2 bath 1100 sq ft apt, no cooking or washing, minimal ironing, sweep/mop, clean furniture etc…  $70 for the day is very fair IMO.

      • Anonymous says:

        $70.00 to sweep and mop?  Shoot, I'll come and do that for you.  I would rather do it myself than pay someone all of that money for nothing.

    • Hildago says:

      You pay your helper $7, you should be ashamed!!, as you point out this will hardly cover basic living costs. We pay ours CI$12. 

      • Hear Hear says:

        Liar liar pants on fire!  NO WAY you pay $12.00x42x four weeks = $,2016 per month plus $350 for health insurance.  Unless you are crazy-wealthy I do NOT beiieve you pay CI$2,800 per month for a helper, nice try.

        When I say $7.00 it is because I have lived here for over 20 years and think my salary of CI$1,200 per month +plus, +plus,+ plus (healthcare with Brit Cay, not Cinico!)  A personal car to drive for errands, and cell phone top ups plus wonderfull tips all the time… Trust me- it works out toat least  $1,500 per month and she is above average for pay and perks!!!

        Back to moral obligations:  Do the right thing and sleep well at night. 

  17. Anonymous says:

    for once the government understood their nature.  they understood that they are infact clueless about the economy and the policies they push is political in nature, and rarely in the interest of the economy in general.

    Minimum wage will do absolutely nothing to better the lives of people living in poverty, rather it will only insure that everyone is paying a higher cost of living.

    Once implemented, the minimum wage will become a political football that politicians will use to get elected at the cost of everyone and as an absolute certainty; will not get rid of poverty nor lessen it.  Just look at the countries which have minimum wage, poverty still exists, the USA poverty index has continues to INCREASE despite the increasing minimum wage.

    the minimum wage is nothing but a red herring for useless politicans to use to get/remain elected.

    if the politicians had any courage, they would promote and encourgae free enterprise to flourish therebycreating REAL opportunities for those willing to reach for them.

    Poverty is a mindset, not a sentence despite which ever heartbreaking story the politicans use to pull at our heartstrings.

    • Castor says:

      What rubbish!

    • Anon says:

      Every country has a segment of their population who do not want to work and rather enjoy "being on the dole" and claiming poverty.  There are also those countries where poverty is unbelievably intense because of the lack of education and work opportunities. Cayman could be heading there.

      Those who are willing to work must receive a fair days for a fair days work, and give a fair days work for a fair days pay. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Free interprise is what f@@@ed these little Islands. The foreigners came and saw that it was easy to establish a business here in Cayman.

      They realise that most of their own people living here had the most cash and were the developers. They then formed many  companies  through government's free interprize system.

      They eventually moved in and took all the businesses from the local constractors. Look around now and see who have all the jobs! then you still want more promote free interprize! for whom? give us a break man!!


  18. Anonymous says:

    All Progressive MLAs have proven that they are liars by their actions in voting no. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Did they campaign that they would implement the minimum wage???

      • The Seeker says:

        Yes they did. The Premier recently lamented that he did not do so during the 2005-2009 period when he was the Education and Labor Minister.

        • Anonymous says:

          Alden is no Labor/employee fan if it benefits the little man he never has!

      • Anonymous says:

        " Implement a minimum wage as an early priority."  A direct quote from the PPM manifesto.

    • Think Again! says:

      “When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it. Why do we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?” — House Speaker John Boehner