Wiclu-President Claire Elshot “Labor department is not functioning as it should”POSTED: 10/6/15 10:07 PM
St. Maarten – President of the Windward Island Chamber of Labor Unions Claire Elshot is critical of the functioning of the Department of Labor, saying this department is not functioning the way it should. “Recently there was a recruitment drive and up to now, there has not been any official word from the department about the results of the study and what is the next step,” she said. “Every time it is the same thing, we do recruitment drives but we never follow up. This is why it will always be hard for us to get the real unemployment numbers. People lost faith in the system.”
The unionist also spoke about the recent raids by immigration and how it is effecting business on the island. “This is the time for the labor department to step in and prove to the unemployed that they can function, fill the vacancies that just opened.” She said that employees in the department refer job hunters to employment agencies, while they came in to register as unemployed. She added that employment agencies continue to be a major concern to all unions.
“The introduction of a number of regulations makes it practically impossible for anyone to obtain legal aid. Any worker could have had access to legal assistance in the past to fight their employer if they had been unjustly dismissed or otherwise taken advantage of. Government is making it practically impossible for persons to come into consideration for social aid. One of the common concerns for all unions is the absence of a functioning tripartite committee and social dialogue. I know that government has been cutting social aid to people without using the savings to help others. This is not good for the people on island. The number is still unknown because people do not believe in the system and therefore will not go to the labor department to register,” says Elshot.
The unions have been raising the issue of social dialogue for some time now. Elshot said social dialogue among unions, government and labor in a tripartite setting is needed so that parties could give their input before the government takes decisions. She said the advisory body to government GOA has been just put aside.
“The absence of social dialogue could lead to unrest and people being not happy about what is going on. Students and others returning to St. Maarten to work were told that they were too qualified for jobs, yet employment agencies seem to be finding work for them. The message this sends is that job hunters should go through an employment agency.”
The union president also wants special attention towards getting work for persons with disability. “Too often they are put on the side or dismissed and left to fend for themselves. This needs to stop and the labor ministry should do something about this, I want to publicly call on those who are not unionized to do so and become part of an organization that fights for their rights as a worker,” Elshot said.