Chamber of labor unions wants meeting with Dutch delegation

POSTED: 12/30/11 11:54 AM

St. Maarten – The Windward Island Chamber of Labor Unions has put forth five agenda points for the upcoming tri-partite meeting on January 11: short-term labor contracts, minimum wage adjustment, cost of living adjustment, employee-protection and youth-unemployment.
Wiclu first vice president Claire Elshot expressed concerns yesterday during the organization’s last weekly press briefing of the year about the current situation in the local labor market. “There is no stability, the situation is becoming more explosive every day. We see a growing number of unemployed people, not only among youngsters but also among workers over the age of forty.” Elshot said that the dismissed workers at the former Pelican Resort “have not been able to get any financial aid before Christmas. No salary, no bonus, nothing from the company.”
On the upside, Elshot noted “with pleasure” how Winair honored this week its longstanding employee Gertrude Souchette-Maccow who retired after forty years of service. She said that given the current circumstances in the labor market, it is doubtful that there will be a lot of these ceremonies in the future.
Elshot stressed the importance of involving the local labor force in St. Maarten’s economic development. As an example, she referred to the plans for building an International Medical center in Cupecoy. “Between 80 and 85 percent of the employees ought to be locals,” she said.
The Wiclu sent a letter to the leaders of the Dutch parliamentary delegation that will visit St. Maarten in January with a request for a meeting. “We’d like to get an opportunity to voice our concerns,” Elshot said. “Parliamentarian Ortega-Martijn Has already indicated that these meet and greet events should ALSO include people who have critical questions. Somebody has to listen and something needs to be done for the people on pour island. You cannot have economic development and leave the people behind.”
Elshot said that a discussion about the minimum wage is necessary, since the last adjustment dates back to 2006. The last cost of living adjustment is from 2008.

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