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TCI: ‘Big mistake’ says Deputy Premier after Gansevoort staff ‘change’ letter leaked



#Providenciales, December 12, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – A letter issued under the guise of being ‘fair play’ for resort staff at the Gansevoort, was condemned and labelled ‘punitive’ and an apparent retaliation to the implementation of the amended Hotel and Restaurant (Service Charge) Ordinance 2018.

The law, since September, makes it mandatory for hospitality workers to receive 100 percent of service charges on guests’ bills; ending decades of partial payments to workers.

Among those getting that social media circulated letter was Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Employment, Sean Astwood.

“I saw the letter this morning and I immediately contacted the Gansevoort to confirm its authenticity because on first sight of it, I thought someone was actually playing mischief with the company.  However, the company confirmed that it is a letter they had issued out to their employees…” said the Minister on Tuesday.

Gansevoort had expected the amended law to come into effect on December 1, 2018 because that was the date announced by the PDM Administration.  The letter to staff at the resort, restaurant and spa property was dated November 27, 2018.

On Tuesday, during a press conference aimed at debriefing the public on results of an official trip to the United Kingdom, the Deputy Premier, when questioned about the letter had strong words for the Gansevoort and other properties considering similar tactics in reaction to the service charge ordinance amendments taking effect.

“I have already scheduled a meeting with the owner of the Gansevoort and already verbally expressed my concerns for the content of that letter.  Not just for the simple things of uniforms and food but the implications on transference of work permits etcetera.”

Gansevoort Turks and Caicos is actually owned by Wymara Ltd and Stelle Ltd. The letter from the owners informed staff that they would now see salary deductions to pay for uniforms, that they would have to buy their own lunch meals because the complimentary cafeteria would no longer be offered and that areas like the spa and restaurant would opt out of levying the service charge altogether; leaving the size of tips up to the guests.

Gansevoort splits the service charge with management and staff; staff gets 65 percent.

Deputy Premier Astwood said upcoming discussions with the resort sector will lead to more changes to the Service Charge Ordinance, hence the delay in its implementation.  As the minister with oversight of the Service Charge law, DP Astwood explained that the forum would give resort property owners the chance to further express their trepidations.

“I can say to you that it is not something that I intend to take lightly and actually I will take this opportunity to caution companies, to make sure that any type of what seems to be retaliation or harm that would come unto staff would not be taken lightly and they should refrain from it.”

The Deputy Premier expressed concern about the position the company plans to take in relation to staff transfers from the restaurant – Stelle – to the resort.

The two page letter says:  “There is an option for Stelle Ltd employees, should you wish to move over to become Wymara Ltd employees and share in the service charge pool.  These employees will be reissued new employment contracts (still employed in their restaurant positions).  Work permit employees will be given the option to move over to become Wymara Ltd employees when their existing work permit expire(s) and applications will be treated as first time application(s), thus providing a risk of not being approved.”

Gansevoort, in that staff ‘change’ letter explained, “Whilst we are sure you will understand as your share of service charge has increased, the Management Companies share has been completely taken away and as a result of this, we have regrettably had to reduce some of the benefits we have been able to offer to you over the past 10 years.”

The Premier was in the press conference on Tuesday. It was clear that Hon Sharlene Robinson found the various controversies emerging since the amendments to the law which gives resort employees significantly more take home pay, vexing.

“It is very disappointing, the atmosphere that has been created,” said Premier Robinson who is also responsible for Finance and brought the Service Charge Bill to the House of Assembly, “for the last 14 years, people have been doing as they like even with the legislation.  It is not new, it is a change in rate, yes it became mandatory… but this has just revealed the meanness of some corporate citizens, the meanness.”

The Premier reminded that the law, in its changed formed, is already passed and assured that there would be no roll back.

“We provided a resort facility fee, a fee that would allow them to regain what they are losing so to roll back benefits is because you want to.”

A two month delay reignited debate on the Hotel and Restaurant Service Charge 2018.  On February 1, 2019 the ordinance will come into effect and impacts bookings at resorts made after February 1, 2019 only.










Three Days to NIB Rate Increase for 2023



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer



#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2023 – On April 1st, the second round of increases on contributions at the National Insurance Board will kick in for the Turks and Caicos workforce.  Announced last year, the increases were instituted to keep the NIB from running out of money by 2027 as it services a population that is living longer with contributions that had not been increased in 30 years.

As the Government’s new financial year begins, increases at NIB will mean a higher cost for doing business and a higher cost for running the Government.

The private sector is expected to pay contributions at a rate of 11 percent on your taxable income. The hike is up from last year’s 10 per cent; six percent of which is to be paid by the Employer and five percent is to be paid by the Employee.  For wages of $2000, this will mean a $200 improvement in income per month to the NIB.  As for the burn on residents’ pockets, based on a minimum wage of $1200 monthly salary, that’s at least $60 dollars a month and $720 per year.

Public sector rates will move to 10.15 percent up from 9.15 per cent with the worker paying 4.575 per cent and the Government paying 5.575 per cent; that’s $54 a month and $648 a year at minimum wage.

The NIB rate as of April 1, 2023, will jump to 9 percent for self-employed individuals; For self-employed individuals at minimum wage, that is $108 dollars a month or $1296 per year.

As taxable incomes increase so will the contribution.

The increases follow a 2019 Actuarial review, undertaken every three years, which unearthed that the NIB was facing a dismal future, possible collapse. Contribution rates were growing at a rate much slower than NIB expenses, which included beneficiary payouts.  On that trajectory, the NIB’s earnings would be eclipsed by its income by 2027, forcing the worker protection plan to draw down on money saved for economic shocks like Covid-19.

Unsurprisingly, this was deemed untenable, and an immediate increase was recommended.

Despite this scramble to boost earnings, the NIB has simultaneously increased payouts.  Payouts for pensions, funeral grants, maternity grants and more will all attract bigger sums.

These incremental increases on contributions and payouts were all consultant recommendations, informed statements from the Board.

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Caribbean News

TCI Police Detective Holden Speaks Up on Blue Hills Rapes



Dana Malcolm  

Staff Writer  



#TurksandCaicos, March 27, 2023 – Following the announcement that several women had been robbed and assaulted in Blue Hills in the past weeks, Magnetic Media queried why the Police would wait until they had a man in custody to release an alert. 

TCI’s newest addition to the top brass Detective Superintendent Dean Holden, Head of Crime, Safeguarding and Public Protection, told us that it initially appeared to be an isolated offence and not part of a series of incidents. 

“The full circumstances needed to be investigated to ascertain the facts before a public alert could be considered. Misinformation in such a case would only cause unnecessary public concern and confusion and could adversely impact the investigation and the safeguarding of persons involved—” he said. “Even now there is no definitive information that these offences are linked, and investigators remain open-minded.”  

Holden claimed an early alert with limited information could have hindered the investigation and they were trying to protect the women who may not have wanted to be identified based on where they lived.  

As it turns out, the public concern was very much warranted, because there have been more violent sexual attacks, and more victims got hurt, forcing their hands.  

“When further similar offences were committed, the overriding principle of sustained public protection was considered, hence the alert/release issued,” he said. 

That alert was coupled with the news that a man had been arrested. Whether those further similar incidents could have been prevented if the public was informed earlier and taken extra precautions, is the underlying question. To date, we don’t know how many victims there are. 

Police have increased patrols in the Blue Hills area and condemned the crimes as unacceptable. They have not indicated if anyone was charged for the offences yet.  

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Caribbean News

Louise Garland Thomas High School are TCISS Inter-High Track & Field 2023 Champions



#TurksandCaicos, March 27, 2023 – After a festive three days of competition, the TCISS Inter-High Track & Field Championships 2023 have concluded with the A. Louise Garland Thomas High School reigning as Champions. Featuring a great turnout, eleven schools from across the Turks and Caicos Islands met to compete at the National Stadium March 9-11, 2023.

The competition was stiff among athletes, who were all competing for top spots and by extension a spot-on Team TCI’s CARIFTA 2023 team. From high-spirited invitationals to entertainment by DJ Shakes, spectators enjoyed the best Nationals competition yet.

Overall results:

  •     1st Place: A. Louise Garland Thomas High School
  •     2nd Place: Clement Howell High School
  •     3rd Place: Marjorie Basden High School

Twenty athletes have been selected for Turks and Caicos Islands National CARIFTA Team, some who would have competed in the TCISS Inter-High Track & Field Championships 2023 and some living abroad.

Here are the athletes:

  1. Roniesha Johnson U-17 Girls CHHS
  2. Branary Delancy U-17 Girls LGTHS
  3. Krysann Williams U-20 Girls LGTHS
  4. Anesha Varus U-20 Girls CHHS
  5. Lynn Antoine U-20 Girls Unattached
  6. Chyna Simmons U-20 Girls BWIC
  7. Rayvon Black U-17 Boys Denbigh/Jam
  8. Renaldo Registre U-17 Boys RGHS
  9. Jarmal Missick U-17 Boys HJRHS
  10. Melique Evans U-17 Boys CHHS
  11. Love Joseph U-17 Boys LGTHS
  12. Kaeson Garland U-17 Boys MBHS
  13. Shamar Garland U-17 Boys HJRHS
  14. Alieandio Durham U-20 Boys CHHS
  15. Bernard Hyde U-20 Boys CHHS
  16. Markey Zepherin U-20 Boys CHHS
  17. Rayvon Walkin U-20 Boys KC/Jam
  18. Anthon Walkin U-20 Boys KC/Jam
  19. Alidavidson Higgs U-20 Boys JC/Jam
  20. Darvioun Rigby U-20 Boys Keiser/USA

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