Wifol queries university dismissals and librarian’s position

POSTED: 04/18/12 3:16 PM

St. Maarten – The Worker’s Institute for Organised Labor (Wifol) is not pleased that the University St. Martin is seeking to dismiss seven employees and the management’s decision to recruiting the current librarian to work as the head of its Information Technology (IT) Department. Three of the seven employees that the tertiary institution wants to fire are Dutch citizens and require no work permit.

“Without the dismissal process even being finalized, three of the seven workers who also have administrative duties, are being marginalized and not being invited to staff meetings.  The three employees claim that they are being discriminated against while the request for their dismissal is still being processed and they also questioned whether the labor laws on St. Maarten are really there to safeguard the rights of employees. Tactics tantamount to bribery are also being used to break their will. Country St. Maarten needs education and educated population to be sustainable while limiting and eventually halting the reliance on imported skilled and unskilled labor,” a release from the union states.

Later the union states, “While the dismissal of seven employees is being sought, the university also sent out requests on Tuesday to students to send in their resumes and come for interviews to fill positions as part of the Work Study Program in the Admissions Office, Business Office, Computer Lab, GED/Humanities Office, and Student Service Center.”

Security officers

Wifol says it has also learned that attempts are being made by the security company, which submitted a bid to USM for its services, to absorb the university’s security guards even before the dismissal process is heard by the dismissal committee. The university’s management has also reportedly claimed that the humanities position will not be renewed once the contract has expired.

“Wifol has learned that there are plans afoot to rehire the same person in a “development” capacity,” the union’s release states.

Librarian

The current librarian has been at USM since 2008 just after the university raised just over $1.8 million in pledges and donations from the community. The union contends that much of that money went to paying the librarian, the former dean and the former Chief Financial Officer.

“The university has also had him performing duties as IT technician, contrary to his work permit. USM also failed to renew the contract of a local IT technician with more networking experience in favor of the librarian who now has been sent off island, reportedly with the ticket being paid by USM, until his immigration and employment documents are processed. In the meanwhile, with finals and deadlines for projects fast approaching, the USM library will be manned by a Work Study,” Wifol states.

Later the release states, “There are many qualified local IT technicians on the island who can do his job, WIFOL stated.In addition, the academic coordinator of IT, another local, has been relegated to the position of a lab attendant and is now being laid off.”

Personal Attacks

“USM, with the blessing of its board, is claiming restructuring and financial hardship as the reasons for the layoffs, but all the employees cite the reason as being personal. The president, who has no background in education or the running of educational institutions, is the one who proposed the dismissals to the board and the board then gave its blessings. Wifol questions what example USM, which exists to educate and teach, is setting for the young people and population of this nation,” the union’s release continues.

Wifol says it has also learned that USM is seeking to become an educational broker and could eventually phase out offering its own programs. They believe this is contrary to what a university is and how a university functions.

“The Government of St. Maarten needs to seriously look at the establishment of a university for the island nation that links all of the schools and also produces the types of citizens that are desirable for progress and development of this country,” the union’s release concluded.

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