Minister De Weever re-opens labor and social affairs office

POSTED: 12/22/11 3:50 PM

“Renovation signals change”

St. Maarten –Labor and social affairs office staff members released red and green balloons into the air after Minister Cornelius de Weever officially opened their renovated premises on the Pondfill yesterday afternoon. The 80,000-guilders renovation is more than a lick of paint; it signals change, the Minister said in a brief address.

“When I took office this was one of the first buildings I visited,” De Weever said. I noticed the lack of attention for the building. This renovation improves the working environment; we want to build a better St. Maarten and to achieve that, we have to invest in service, in people, and also in our buildings. This is about change; it is about a ministry that is good and that is working to become better.”

The minister acknowledged that the Labor and social affairs office has been subject to sharp criticism in the past. In the renovated reception area there are now two separate desks – one for labor affairs and one for social affairs. The furniture has been replaced; visitors will find more comfort in the practical new chairs that now adorn the reception.

Minister de Weever said that his ministry is working towards a better civil service. “Everybody who comes here deserves to be treated with respect and dignity,” he said.

Mark Schloss, the head of social affairs, and drs. Peggy–Ann Dros, head of labor affairs, both stressed that the new labor office is there to serve its visitors. “We are here to serve the community of St. Maarten,” Schloss said. “That is the ministry’s vision,” Dros added. “It is very clear.”

Drs. Jorien Wuite, Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Affairs said that the staff will start wearing uniforms that are scheduled to arrive tomorrow. The staff will undergo customer service training and the office has set up a client-appointment system, which will reduce waiting times.

With more social workers, a matchmaking system to bring businesses and job seekers together, job mediation officers, and extra case workers for social services things are definitely looking up.

For the future, Wuite said, social affairs will also set up services for debt management. “A team will go to Amsterdam to visit a similar service there during the first quarter of next year to get ideas about how to set this up.

The ministry is also looking at a system for crisis-care to assist people on a 24/7 basis, for instance when they have become homeless due to a fire.

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