Simpson Bay Resort directly offers 92 Wifol members first chance at vacancies

POSTED: 01/11/12 12:51 PM

Thompson says, “We are ready and willing to meet on the offer.”

St. Maarten – The legal representative for Simpson Bay Resort Management Company Jairo Bloem has offered 92 former employees of Pelican Resort Management Company the exclusive first option to secure available employment at the resort. Some 92 people could find employment if they choose to accept the offer. This will be on top of 43 people who signed individual contracts with the company in 2011. The other 49 for whom Pelican Resort Management Company filed a conditional dismissal request are not covered in the offer which also forms part of a letter to Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Cornelius de Weever, and a letter to the editor signed by Mark Miller on behalf of Simpson Bay Resort Owner Company.

Legal representative for Simpson Bay Resort Management Company Jairo Bloem announces the company’s offer to give 92 former employees of Pelican Resort Management Company the exclusive first option to apply for vacancies at the resort. The offer expires in seven days.

The offer of employment, announced Tuesday in a press conference, is valid for the next seven days. Any available positions available after that will be opened to the general public. Former Pelican Resort Management Company employee represented by the Workers Institute for Organized Labor (Wifol) who wants to apply under the “exclusive offer” will maintain all rights to claims against that company if they take the jobs. Potential applicants should also note that contracts will be made on an individual basis. This is something that Wifol has strongly protested citing the right of the workers to collective bargaining and the fact that the Collective Labor Agreement for the line personnel and supervisors, which expired on December 31, 2011, states that “all successors and assigns of parties and any group or organization or entity coming after them, which is also including subcontractors and concessionaires” to honor the provisions. Wifol President Theophilus Thompson maintained that position on Tuesday night and invited Bloem, who represents the employer, to meet with the union at his convenience.

“We are ready and willing to meet on the offer. If Mr. Bloem recognizes the union as the representative of the workers, we can talk about anything. I consider his statement anti-union, against the law, international standards, the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining. This cannot be accepted in a democracy. If these worker, which he’s targeting, were not organized his intentions would be valid, but they are organized and he needs to respect that, so I am inviting him to meet with us,” Thompson said.

The timeshare property, which consists of Simpson Bay Resort and Marina and The Villas at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina, needs the employees to meet the demands of running a resort in the high season. At the moment the resort is 95 percent full and there is not enough staff to run the resort. Though the contracts for people to return will have a duration to cover at least the forthcoming period Bloem has announced that investments will be made in the employees.

“We plan to put the employees through a very specific training course and I don’t think any company will invest in people and their training, only to fire them. We want all employees to be part of a team,” Bloem said.

The attorney also said that Simpson Bay Resort Management Company is making the offer to the 92 employees to show that while they have no obligations to the employees of Pelican Resort Management Company they realize that giving the pool of employees a job is important for the island’s economy and for the employees themselves. He also said they could not make the offer directly because Wifol, through its attorneys, has instructed them via summons dated December 2 not to contact the union’s members because they intend to launch an injunction.

“We are however in a difficult position as the resort is at 95 percent occupancy and we need staff because the resort is not currently operating at its most efficient because of these vacancies. We can only hope they will grasp this opportunity. Even though the court has ruled on November 4 and November 7 that the company has no obligation to these employees, we are also trying to be fair, especially considering the economy. We consider this the equitable thing to do,” Bloem said.

Dismissal request

Bloem also announced on Tuesday that he takes issue with the pronouncements made by Secretary General in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor drs Jorien Wuite concerning the conditional dismissal request that was filed for 49 employees of Pelican Resort Management Company. Wuite told the media and a group of the employees that the request has not been finalized because they are sure the request is valid and the resort has yet to supply the Labour Affairs Department will all of the requested information.

Bloem refuted that latter statement by pointing out that the dismissal request was filed on April 28, 2011. He followed up on the status of the process on May 30, 2011 because the first six week period for a response lapsed. Government should have requested a second six week period at the time, but they apparently never did. According to Bloem they also did not request any further information or specified that a part of the application was unclear.

On the question of the request’s validity Bloem pointed out that the dismissal request was contingent upon a ruling in Wifol’s favor in the very first appeals case against the February 8, 2011 ruling, which stated Simpson Bay Resort Management Company and Simpson Bay Resort Owner Company are legally bound by the Collective Labor Agreement.

“That condition never went into effect because the Appeals Court did not rule Simpson Bay Resort Management Company was responsible for the employees. Now seven months later Wifol wants a decision, but Labour Affairs should not blame us for not having a complete file,” Bloem said.

His record of correspondence on this point includes three letters to the Labour Affairs department that have never been answered.


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