Tri-partite agreement reached for resort reopening (Pelican)

POSTED: 03/9/11 11:41 AM

St. Maarten – The Simpson Bay Resort Management Company (SBRMC) has committed to reopening Simpson Bay Resort and Marina and The Villas at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina within 10 days and taking all 182 members of Wifol back to work. The management company has committed further that they will not use the verdict of the appeal case as a reason for closing the resort.
The three way agreement is between government, Simpson Bay Resort Management Company and Workers Institute for Organized Labor (Wifol), which represents the workers. It is valid for the duration of the appeal process that SBRMC will file against a February 8th court ruling that they are bound by the terms of the Collective Labor Agreement for the line personnel and supervisors. Parties retain all rights and accept no obligations other than the continued operation of the resort beside what is in the arrangement.

Under Article 4 –Termination of employees – SBRMC commits to follow the law and the CLA when dismissing employees and government commits to delivering a response on a dismissal request within three months of January 18th. The company must also indicate within 48 hours that it has withdrawn its December request for all 182 employees to be terminated and that the dismissal request now being considered is the one of January 18th where 37 to 50 employees will be terminated. A list of who will be terminated must be attached.
Parties have also agreed that employees can seek to voluntarily seek agreement with the management for a joint termination of the labor agreement. People who are part of the dismissal request and do not reach agreement on joint termination before the ruling of the Appellate Court will receive payment of the Cessantia they are allotted by the law within a month of their termination and the rest of what they are entitled to under the CLA six months after they are terminated. This arrangement does not signal a waiver or relinquishing of Wifol’s rights and does not signal SBRMC being bound to the CLA and that it cannot sustain the resort under the conditions of the present CLA. It also does not signal acceptance by Wifol of a relationship between the financial difficulties and the CLA.

Government has committed to covering the employees against any claims resulting from judgments rendered by the Appellate or Supreme Court if workers collect money not due to them. This will only happen if the resort proves that they have paid the money.
Parties have also agreed that Wifol and SBRMC will begin negotiations on the new CLA either after the Appeal of the February 8th ruling is handed down or earlier if parties wish. There’s also agreement that cooperation aimed at maintaining continuity and peace will be initiated.
Specific agreements have also been made in terms of speeding up the appeal process. Parties will jointly request the matter be handled expeditiously and will submit their filings to each other on the day they are made. This includes the statement of grievances, cross-appeals and the written pleadings as part of the procedure.

Under Article 9 which deals with payments SBRMC will pay employees on time and in full and that they will also work with employees on rectifying late payments for loans that the company should have deducted from their wages and paid to financial institutions.
Government has maintained that it looks favorably on a request to grant either an extension or exemption on the payment of transfer tax. The decision will be based on “the constraints of the current existing legislation. The discussions on this are between the government and SBRMC and “has no bearings or implications for Wifol.”

Tuesday’s signing came 20 working days after the Court in First Instance ruled on February 8th, 2011 that the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company has to respect the terms of the Collective Labor Agreement for the line workers and supervisors at the now former Pelican Resort. In their statement announcing the closure the new owners stated that the ruling created “significant unbudgeted expenses and judicial liabilities that require massive financial injection” in order to “responsibly operate” the resort. The closure took effect on February 20th and led to a petition for summary proceedings by the timeshare owners. Their lawyer Gerrit van Giffen confirmed on Tuesday he’d requested that handling of that petition be suspended pending the implementation of the agreement.

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