Veteran unionist Willy Haize hospitalized

POSTED: 02/17/14 2:14 PM

St. Maarten – Willy Haize, the founder of the United Federation of the Windward Antilles (Ufa) was hospitalized on Saturday. Tomorrow he will be flown to the Dominican Republic for treatment, Oral Gibbes stated on his Facebook page.

Gibbes intended to interview Haize for his program Oral Gibbes Live, but he had to drop the plan due to the veteran unionist’s illness. Details about the nature of the 76-year-old Haize’s medical condition have not been made public.

In his book Friendly Anger, The rise of the labor movement in St. Martin, Joseph H. Lake Jr. gives an excellent account of Haize’s accomplishments in the late sixties and early seventies. It is a fascinating read. Haize’s involvement in the laborers’ uprising of May 30 1969 in Curacao greatly advanced his cause as a union leader in his native St. Maarten.

Mind you, he started working as a magician at Little Bay Beach Hotel in June 1973 before he got down to serious business. On October 3, he founded the United Federation of the Windward Antilles (UFA). In 1975, Haize propelled UFA onto the political stage in an apparent attempt to find refuge against the possible outcome of the ongoing arson-investigation. He was no match for Claude Wathey’s Democratic Party.

Long serving as the president of the Ufa-union, in later years Haize withdrew to the function of advisor – though that did not diminish his involvement in union-matters at all. He has always been a staunch fighter for the increase of the minimum wage – a plea that so far has fallen on deaf ears with the government.

In 2011, Haize withdrew as a member of the Social Economic Council (SER), because of his age. His son Rignaldo has taken over the role as president of the union his father founded forty years ago.

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