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Creeping higher, TCI now with five COVID-19 cases

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Sharlene Robinson, TCI Premier will address the nation at 9pm (March 28)

#TurksandCaicosIslands – March 28, 2020 — COVID19 cases for the Turks and Caicos are creeping higher, as yet another test returned positive today from the Trinidad and Tobago based laboratory of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

The Ministry of Health, in a media statement informs that there were three samples dispatched for testing; one of them was positive for the coronavirus.

It was explained the new patient had recently travelled from a country with high infection rate and had already been in quarantine, when the results came in.

Turks and Caicos now charts five confirmed cases of COVID-19.  The islands today commenced a 21-day, 24-hour national lock down with only essential movement permitted.

Premier Sharlene Robinson will address the nation tonight at 9pm on Radio Turks and Caicos and the Office of the Premier page on Facebook.

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It’s high time to start forming trade unions in the Turks and Caicos Islands

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#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2022 – I’m of the opinion, TCI is at a juncture in our development where trade unions could be very beneficial to the people of this country.

With that being said, it’s high time to start exploring our options particularly in the service industry to see where it leads us.  I applaud the former popular Facebook host Brenesha Cox-Lightbourne, for shedding some light on this topic several months ago.

Currently, we have what I would sum up to be a badly broken workforce system. We need a stronger voice to champion equal rights and equal pay for our people.   In actuality, it goes beyond that. There are some serious issues which have permeated a few sectors of our workforce. Issues such as wrongful terminations, health and safety concerns, poor working conditions, employers not paying workers a fair wage or overtime pay, etc.

Case in point: Some companies have employees working on construction sites and high rise buildings, with many of them not wearing the proper safety harnesses or helmets. Do we have enough hired help in our labor department to monitor these practices?

Are we waiting for serious incidents or death to occur before something is done? Our government should be much more proactive in their approach to matters such as this.

Now days, it’s not uncommon to hear about big corporations suppressing wages by touting there aren’t enough workers to meet the demands. I think those arguments have nothing to do with the real truth and I beg to differ.

The truth to the matter is, it’s hogwash. In most cases, it’s because these big corporations are not willing to pay the locals fair wages to keep up with the growing demands and cost of living in TCI.

Having a properly functioning union in the Turks and Caicos, will broaden the opportunity for the middle class to flourish. This will create greater opportunities where everyone can be offered a fair shake at achieving the TI dream.

This should include the government putting in place sound policies that help to build a floor beneath citizens who are willing to work hard.

We realize there will always be varying degrees of sagacity and varying degrees of success. However, let’s try to create a level playing field and avoid building a society where there are the “haves and the have not”. Because, what it breeds is resentment.

A free market society only works when we all have an opportunity to get a slice of the pie and fair income distribution.

Henceforth, to get the ball rolling, what must to be done is to begin having more social dialogue at the workplace and at the national level to educate workers of their rights.

Both the private and the public sector have a key role to play in achieving better local governance, and to ensure workers rights are being enforced in accordance with the international labour standards.

The million-dollar question that still remains is, who will stand up and fight for our rights, be it concerned citizens or a politician with the political will?

 

Cheers!

Ed Forbes

Concerned citizen of Grand Turk 

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Bahamas News

COP 15 begins; Turks & Caicos delegation and objectives unknown…

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2022 – Will the Turks and Caicos be in the room when the ‘massive moment for nature’ unfurls in Montreal, Canada?  There is expected to be, in the end, a deal to protect animals and their habitats.

COP15 on Biodiversity begins today, Wednesday December 7th and while it was confirmed a TCI Delegation will be attending the event there’s no word yet who is making up that delegation or the objectives for the country, at this edition of the Conference of the Parties.

Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism with responsibility for environment had confirmed to Magnetic Media, weeks ago, that she was scheduled to attend the meeting.

The Biodiversity Conference is the third UN Conference this year pulling together a Conference of the Parties (a gathering of the supreme governing body of any international convention) the first two being COP 15 on Desertification in May and COP 27 in November.

The Biodiversity Conference is has three main objectives it is aiming to fulfil:

  •  the conservation of biodiversity;
  • the sustainable use of its components and
  • the fair sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

The Turks and Caicos islands have taken significant initiative this year to protect its Biodiversity, becoming the first Caribbean country to join the United Kingdom’s Blue Belt Program and hosting the Turks and Caicos’ first ever Climate Change Summit and continued partnerships with the Royal Botanical Gardens in the UK.

The Conference which will run until December 19th will also look at the implementation of the protocols of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that deal with the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of nature, and the safe transport, handling and labelling of Living Modified Organisms.

It is to be carried live:  https://www.youtube.com/@cbd-live9013/streams.

COP15, like COP27 will open an avenue for funding to further biodiversity protection initiatives through negotiating with larger nations.

More than 190 countries will come together to hash out a plan to halt the decline of ecosystemswildlife, and the life-supporting services they provide.

 

Photo Caption: The United Nations Biodiversity Conference’s Ceremonial Opening Day press conference.  At the head table, Andersen Inger from UN Environment Programme, Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema, Huang Runqiu — COP15 chair, Steven Guilbeault — H.E Canadian Minister of Environment, and David Ainsworth, our Head of Comms. https://www.youtube.com/@cbd-live9013/streams

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The Ayes Have it – Youth Parliament in TCI a Rivetting Row over Minimum Wage

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2022 – A raise in the minimum wage was the topic up for fierce debate in this year’s Turks and Caicos Youth Parliament; Young people from across the TCI sitting as various Cabinet Ministers represented the hypothetical interests of residents as both the Government and Opposition argued about the best course of action.

The motion was raised by  Lee-Anna Sutton, Minister of Education with responsibility for labour who proposed that the (hypothetical) $6.25 minimum wage be raised to $8.50.

“A raise in minimum wage is justified on moral social and economic grounds– it will provide an improved quality of life for all in the Turks and Caicos” she said referencing all the detrimental effects of poverty on the country including low birth rates and an increased likelihood that young people would be funnelled into crime.

Manville Gardiner, Opposition Leader questioned what percentage of islanders would be benefitting from the raise as many of the jobs in the category were held by expats.

Gardiner, who referred to his party as the ‘Government in waiting’ said the minimum wage was the wrong way to go and explained why.

“The motion says Islanders find it hard to make ends meet. I find it hard to believe that this government thinks that the minimum wage alone is what is standing in the way– our problem is not simply low resources but high costs. The government solution should not just be increasing resources but lowering costs.”

He suggested putting more TCI islanders in higher positions in local companies and increasing agricultural production.

Slamming the bill as thoughtfulness, he dismissed the proposal with: “it aint ready…”

“Our people have to eat secondhand important vegetables that can be grown in our own backyard” the opposition leader said, “The current minimum wage cannot keep up with inflation and that’s a fact– Who will benefit the most from an increase? Our local low income families.” was the response to the opposition’s points by Jatavia Howell, Minister of Tourism.

In a spirited argument, the minister pointed to another tourism heavy destination – Los Angeles – and the benefits of minimum wage increase there including lower turnover rates, less employee absenteeism and stronger staff retention.

On the other side of the aisle, describing the raise in minimum wage as a ‘quick fix’, Andy Missick, Opposition Appointed Member said the government would continue to fail at breaking the cycle of poverty if they employed these short term ideas.

“The raising of minimum wage might slightly reduce poverty but it also comes with many possible implications– we are looking for a long term solution” he maintained.

It was an engaging and feisty afternoon as several members of the governing party including Dixie Smith, Premier of the TCI threw their support behind the bill.

Youth Premier Smith referenced the lighthouse effect that had occurred in other countries in the Caribbean where a minimum wage increase resulted in  an overall increase in all wages.

“Let us be realists, low wages in the Turks and Caicos islands pushes households that are already at a threshold into poverty– why earn less when you could earn more.”

The debate continued with contributions from Shakiah Lewis, Minister of Home Affairs; and Adrian Parker, Governor’s Appointed member who were tightly regulated by Alex Taylor, Speaker of the House.

The motion passed 4-2  with one abstaining.

The speed with which ideas and quips were tossed across the floor broke even Madame Speaker’s facade as a laugh escaped once or twice. After the end of the debate, which attracted many supporters in the gallery, all of the young people were allowed to speak on the experience, some admitting cases of nerves rattled them but still pushing forward.

Madame Speaker used her position to encourage residents between 18 and 29 to join the country’s youth parliament “So that the youth will have a voice.”

All the young people were supported by family, friends and elected government members including Anya Williams, Governor (actg); Otis Morris, Minister of Home Affairs; Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education and Youth; E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Akeirra Missick, Member for Leeward and Long Bay who is credited with being a mentor to the Youth Parliamentarians.

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