Editorial: Unionism

POSTED: 01/9/13 11:29 PM

When the going gets tough people usually seek refuge somewhere. In times of war churches are always full, but when peace gets in the way, many of these fugitives quickly find better things to do. Against this background it is amazing to learn that the rate of unionism in St. Maarten – the workers that are member of a union in a percentage of the total labor force – is hovering around 35 percent – a number that we also know from tax compliance.

The economic crisis that erupted in 2008 apparently has not given many workers the idea that their rights will be better protected under the umbrella of a labor-union.

Now union-leaders are calling for employees to organize themselves and to become members. The call comes at a time when one union has signed a collective labor agreement with utilities company Gebe, where a second contract for another group of employees is under negotiation.

The shift towards employment agencies may also drive more workers towards unionism. As long as the unions play a constructive role in the delicate dance with their counterparts in especially the private sector, this should not be a problem.

Employees at small companies could also benefit from an individual membership if they feel that they are not being treated correctly by their employers. In the end it is about finding the right balance between the wishes, rights and duties of all parties involved.

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