Thompson: Dismissal procedure change without consultation

POSTED: 07/17/13 1:06 PM

St. Maarten – Changes to the dismissal procedure by the Labor Affairs Department that was published in the Government Pages last Thursday sounded alarm bells for various stakeholders within the Tripartite Committee of the Ministry of Labor.

The publication stated that effective immediately, the dismissal time procedure was changed from 6 weeks to 12 weeks. While the change may have found support from workers, employer’s organizations protested. Unions who represent the workers were alarmed for an entirely different reason; the lack of social dialogue and consultation on such an important change. “This matter was not discussed in the tripartite setting. So the employers section in the committee responded immediately. There was a discussion among the tripartite committee members and after that discussion, the minister promised to retract that announcement. My concern with regard to that specific announcement is that we are going backwards in terms of having a labor market which is compatible with new developments within the working agreement,” President of the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Union (Wiclu) Theophilus Thompson said.

Thompson pointed out that within a previous tripartite committee; the minister of labor of the former Netherlands Antilles granted St. Maarten’s tripartite committee the right to come up with a new labor policy.
“One of the things in that new labor policy that should have been in effect was the deduction of the time span for granting permission to terminate or not to terminate an employee when an employer made a request.”
According to the union leader, when St. Maarten became a country, the Labor Affairs Department began working on a shorter time span of 4 weeks for dismissal requests. The law had to be amended, Thompson stated, while registering his concern about the lackluster performance of parliamentarians.
“The law had to be amended to accommodate the new tax system and that was never done. So now to see that the ministry has now extended it from 4 to 12 weeks, not disputing what the law says, without consultation with a tripartite body and without labor having an input, that is a concern for us as it relates to leadership, policy and who advises to make such announcements,” the union leader stated.

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