Outpouring of sympathy for deceased unionist Pantophlet

POSTED: 08/5/14 11:17 PM

St. Maarten – Unionists and politicians expressed their respects to unionist Patricia Pantophlet who passed away last weekend in Colombia at the age of 57.

“Deeply saddened by the passing of a great trade union leader, Patricia Pantophlet, sister of the General Secretary of the Windward Islands Teachers’ Union, Roxsana Pantophlet,” Witu-President Claire Elshot wrote.
“Affectionately known to all as Patsy, she has left a legacy with her contributions to the workers’ organizations in defending the rights of civil servants as President of Windward Islands Civil Servants Union (WICSU). She also defended the rights of all the workers as the first President of the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Union (WICLU) in St. Maarten where she strongly spoke on different issues as the voice of the voiceless. And on international level she made great contribution to Public Service International (PSI), where she also became a Titular member,” Elshot noted.
Elshot said that Pantophlet united with her “to make a strong fist against various austerity measures; we both were renamed “The Power Puff girls.”
Elshot wrote that “Patsy was a strong, outspoken, humble, straight forward leader who gained admiration and respect from many by her contribution to live talk shows and her many articles in the newspapers. Patsy believed in Unity. Unity under the trade unions, under the families, under the workers in the work place. She was very active in several organizations. She was special in many ways and devoted to her job at the Labor Office and will be greatly missed by all. May her soul rest in peace. Condolences, strength and comfort to her family members especially her sister Roxsana Pantophlet.”

“The National Alliance family is deeply saddened by the passing of trade union stalwart, humanitarian, vocal community activist and woman-of-grit Patricia Pantophet, 57, in Bogota Colombia, where she was flown for medical attention in early July,” the NA-party stated in a press release. “Pantophlet was the sister of National Alliance number two candidate Member of Parliament George Pantophlet. She was a close friend and avid supporter of the National Alliance party.”

As a trade union activist and former President of the Windward Islands Civil Servants Union (now WICSU/PSU), Patricia Pantophlet was a very strong defender of workers’ rights. She stood up for workers in St. Maarten and fought tooth-and-nail to ensure that workers’ rights were respected, protected and preserved. “Due to her efforts, tremendous benefits were gained for workers and for the labor force in general,” the NA press release states.

“For many years she fought a personal battle with the chronic auto-immune disease Lupus.

This never dampened her spirits to look out for the people of St. Maarten. In the face of her personal battles and even after she had left the WICSU fold as President, Patsy, as we affectionately called her, remained very vocal and would constantly condemn and speak out about unfair labour practices and unfairness in general via letters in the newspapers and on radio programs.”

She was not one to be silenced and for many years had been the voice of the voiceless in the community.

Pantophlet was also a humanitarian at heart and served on several foundations and community groups including as a member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation; former member of the GOA and member and inspiration behind the Pantophlet Villa Foundation, which raised funds and supported school students. She was a Dismissal and Complaints Office at Labour Affairs for almost four decades.

“St. Maarten has lost one of its strong trade union activists, a great union leader and visionary woman who had always been passionate about protecting and advancing the rights of workers in St. Maarten,” National Alliance Leader Member of Parliament William Marlin said in a press release on Sunday.

“The National Alliance family sympathises with MP George Pantophlet; the Pantophlet family; the trade union movement in St. Maarten and to entire community on this big loss for our nation.”

“She fought for workers to the very end and she fought Lupus to the very end with all her strength. The National Alliance hopes that her indelible mark in the labor movement and in the community will be an inspiration for others to continue to uphold and respect what is right for workers and for our community. She now rests in the arms of The Lord. May her soul rest in eternal peace,” NA Leader William Marlin said.

The United People’s (UP) party leader and Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger and the UP Board also expressed their deepest condolences to Pantophlet’s family and friends in a brief statement.

“The UP family would also like to offer its support and prayers to the fire victims who lost their homes in St. Peters on Saturday,” the statement read. “The UP Board calls on the community to assist the fire victims where possible.  The St. Maarten Red Cross organization is a body that members of the community and other entities could make donations to that then can assist those individuals in need after going through a tragedy. Let’s come together as a community and support the fire victims who surely need an act of unconditional kindness at this time.”


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