Thompson: Wiclu slighted in minimum wage increase

POSTED: 02/6/13 12:53 PM
President of the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions (WICLU), Theophilus Thompson and president of the Windward Islands Teachers Union, Claire Elshot.

St. Maarten – President of the Theophilus Thompson Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) is peeved that the government did not consult with workers unions and employers in amending the minimum wage. During yesterday’s Wifol press briefing, Thompson said that while the increase of minimum wage from 7.97 per hour to 8. 34 per hour is welcome, unions are concerned about the lack of controls on cost of living.

Thompson said the decision to increase was not out in the proper perspective. He feels that the government should have made the decision in the Tripartite setting. He called it a “step backwards” because of no consultation.

“We are appealing to the department of Economic Affairs to look very keenly at the escalation of prices in the supermarkets. It makes no sense you have a wage increase and at the end of the day, your spending power is diminished. That is not workable if we want to alleviate poverty.”


Abuse of Contracts

The union leader highlighted the unjustified dismissal of a young woman who was not a union member but Wifol intervened. She had signed three contracts with the same company and on the third contract, a trial period was injected.

“That’s reverse and it was done obviously for a reason to dismiss the young lady with the excuse that she was in her trial period,” he said.

The woman was dismissed on January 13 and went to the Labor Office before taking her case to Wifol. The young lady was eventually given her job back and Thompson said that all workers need to be educated on contract law and their rights. He said that companies continue to abuse the trial period.

Employment Agencies

Thompson also reiterated his concerns for what he described as “institutionalized slavery”. He said that employers are circumventing the law by avoiding paying their rightful due through employment agencies. When these agencies are used, employees are denied social premiums and also receive late payment of salaries often. He said employees have the right to demand additional fees for late payment of their salary. This clause should be injected in their employment agreement before they sign.


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