Wifol reiterates call for new labor policy

POSTED: 10/4/14 11:00 AM

St. Maarten – Policy to safe guard the rights of the workers are again being advocated by the Wifol in the wake of yet another local company changing hands without informing the workers of how this will impact them.

Union president Theophilus Thompson explained that Check Mate Security has recently changed owners and he is wary that the employees of this establishment may face the same challenges in securing their benefits that workers at Caravanserai are currently facing and that was faced by the Pelican employees before them. The employees of Caravanserai recently were offered employment by the new owners of the resort after being paid by Scotia Bank for roughly a year when the bank took ownership of the resort.

Thompson told members of the media during a chamber of labor unions press conference that Scotia Bank has as yet not paid the employees their last fortnightly salaries that were due prior to their new work agreement. He added that Scotia Bank has also not yet paid the benefits due the workers for their years of service as per an agreement with the former owner, an agreement that according to Thompson, makes Scotia the party responsible for this payment.

The chamber of unions’ president accused the government of not putting the proper policies in place to safeguard the rights of the workers despite several calls from their worker representatives to do so. According to Thompson if there were policies in place making it mandatory for employers to pay a percentage of monies into an escrow account on behalf of their employees, to be used in the event of a change of ownership or any other event that leaves them unable to meet the costs of salaries and benefits due to the employees, this would go a long way towards protecting the workers. He believes that policies such as these would alternately prevent situations where workers give years of faithful service but then are left without monies due to them because the outgoing owner made no provisions for such.

Thompson said the union negotiates in the best interest of its membership when collective labor agreements are being discussed but lamented that in many cases the legal teams of the companies advise them not to honor agreements that the law cannot force them to honor. Thompson calls on the incoming government to implement policies that will protect the working force.

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