Just explain to the guys what is written on the bottom of their work permit to pay no attention to that … they are all carpenters I did that to save a little bit of money on the work permit application, that has nothing to do with the job they are going to do, it has nothing to do with what they are going to get paid … These things cost me $4,000 as it is, the work permits are not easy to get right now.”
Cliff Groves, owner Pegasus Construction
(CMR) The Cayman Islands border control unit is said to be investigating local Caymanian contractor Cliff Groves after multiple complaints were received against him for several immigration infractions. Groves owns and operates a construction company called Pegasus Construction and brought workmen from overseas but is alleged to have now left them stranded upon their arrival.
It turns out that Grooves' own words could ultimately be his own undoing after multiple voice notes were circulated with him seemingly being in blatant contravention of the immigration laws.
Groves hired six Honduran workers to come to the Cayman Islands to work for him as carpenters. He promised them that they would be refunded their tickets and quarantine fees once they arrived on the island. The men had to borrow money in order to make the journey on a promise from Groves that he could guarantee them work for “a minimum of three years”.
The fiasco is causing quite a stir in the local community and began with Groves claiming that he was in desperate need of carpenters to assist him in his construction business. From exclusive voice notes received, Groves has a contract with Davenport Developers and his “job has been shut down all these weeks because I don't have you guys here.”
At one point he instructed them to ignore the title on their work permits because he had essentially lied to the WORC department and applied for “carpenter helpers” to save money. He informed them that they would all be working as carpenters and paid accordingly but this lie was told in order to save him paying more than the $4,000 for the respective work permit fee.
He noted that he was under pressure at his weekly contractor's meeting as he was attempting to delay the start of his project with an explanation about his workers being delayed. He noted that all of his four companies were under pressure and stretched to the maximum and he was keen not to lose the job. There was a question of some KYD $2,500 rental deposit being paid by Groves which he would then deduct from their salary within the first month.
“I understand you don't have any other money other than that. Tell the guys if they are willing to work with me I will work with them.”
He explained that he could not take the risk of giving them that rental deposit with no guarantee that they would not be staying at the rental long term. He noted that a one-year lease would have been required. They reached an agreement to proceed on the basis that he would pay the deposit and they would pay USD $3,600 for the month's rent.
The Cayman Islands Government made it clear from the onset that any employers bringing workers in during this time would have to be responsible for the quarantine accommodation fee. It is not supposed to be the responsibility of the employee.
The last time he spoke with them via WhatsApp was on the evening of Monday, June 28, just four days before their arrival into the Cayman Islands.
The group secured a quarantine house in Savannah house for their arrival on Thursday, July 1 to only be informed that they were no longer needed. They explained that they arrived as agreed after seeking approval from Travel Time. Upon arrival, they proceeded to go to their quarantine facility and called Groves to inform him that they had settled in.
Groves then told them that they were no longer needed because he had lost the contract with Davenport and that they could “just take the flight back home” to Honduras on July 15. He also allegedly told them that they had entered the country illegally and proceeded to block them on his phone from contacting him further.
The six men are now stuck in quarantine asking WORC to cancel their work permits so that they can attempt to find other employment in order to pay back the money they borrowed to come to the Cayman Islands and eventually work towards supporting their families here.
They expressed their shock and dismay at the predicament they now find themselves in where they took an employer at his word that he would take care of them, but now have been left to fend for themselves. Groves noted in his voice note that he could “loan everybody a little bit of money” until their first pay cheque from Davenport.
CMR understands that some Good Samaritans have stepped up to offer them some assistance.