Unions start rating employers on good business practices

POSTED: 12/30/11 11:53 AM

St. Maarten – The Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions Wiclu will start rating employers next year on the way they treat their employees. “There are businesses that use good practices in terms of job security. We will expose those who do not,” Wiclu-president Theophilus Thompson said yesterday at the organization’s last press briefing of the year.
“The year 2011 has been very challenging for workers and 2012 will become even more challenging,” he said. Since the island has moved to country-status there is “a lot of room for improvement.” He referred to the government’s policy on economic development, and to actions by employers that were met with inaction by the government. “we have to wonder about what is happening to the right of the workers,” he said.
Thompson referred obviously to the situation at the Simpson Bay Resort and the actions by its general manager Jules James. “All this brings into focus where St. Maarten is going. The closure of businesses, bankruptcies and the transfer of businesses into other hands have all left workers in jeopardy. We want their rights protected by legislation.”
Thompson added that “permanent employment in St. Maarten is becoming a dream. The workers organizations will not allow this to happen. It violates conventions on the right to decent work of the International Labor organization ILO. Every human being has a right to work; decent work for employees is a priority.”
Thompson also referred to measures to combat poverty. “How is it possible to combat poverty when we allow the Simpson Bay Resort to send more than 140 workers home without following proper procedures? How can the government condone that practice?”
Thompson said that the cost of living continues to go up while wages remain flat or even decrease. “That leads to increased poverty.”
In general, the Wiclu-president is concerned about a trend in labor relationships. “we seem to be heading towards confrontation with businesses and the government. We don’t like to see this happen.”
Thompson referred to the ILO-convention 144 that outlines the importance of social dialogue and that social partners ought to make sure that issues don’t become confrontational. “We believe in that,” he said.
Looking forward to the New Year, Thompson said that the tri-partite dialogue is an effective tool to resolve issues. There is room for improvement. We want to move forward in harmony, and to support the growth of St. Maarten where all share in its prosperity.”

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