Wifol takes another shot at Simpson Bay Resort

POSTED: 02/20/12 12:42 PM

Union demands adherence to collective labor agreement

St. Maarten – This Thursday Judge Mr. René van Veen will rule on a lawsuit against the Simpson Bay Resort Management company and the Royal Resorts Management Company. At stake is a demand by the Workers Institute for Organized Labor Wifol that the companies adhere to the collective labor agreement that covers its now fired employees at the former Pelican Resort until the legal procedures have come to a conclusion. The court heard the arguments from both parties on Friday.

Wifol attorneys mrs. Maarten le Poole and Wim van Sambeek submitted a 12-page brief to the court. It reveals that of the 182 former Wifol-employees at the Pelican Resort, just 37 signed a new contract “against strongly deteriorated conditions” with its successor, the Simpson Bay Resort and Marina.

“Where the other 150 employees at the resort are coming from has not been explained,” the brief states. “According to Wifol they are partly illegal aliens that have been hired via manpower agencies. They are prepared to do the work of the Wifol-members for a much lower salary. Apparently this does not interest the government, because there are no signs that the labor inspection or the immigration department has investigated the situation. About this lack of action on the part of the government a complaint will be filed with the International Labor Organization.”

Wifol is aiming at a face-to-face hearing further down the road. During these procedures it will be possible to hear witnesses. “In these cross examinations it will be established that Corso (Richard Corso – CEO of Royal Resorts – ed.) and James (Simpson Bay Resort general manager and UP-parliamentarian Jules James –ed.) have told Wifol and its members repeatedly that the auction of the resort (in December 2010 – ed.) would not change anything for them.”

Wifol maintains that Royal Resort was in control of all events all the time – from before and after the auction that put the resort under the control of a new legal entity. The union states via its attorneys in the brief that its request for a provisional ruling to oblige the company to pay its members based on the collective labor agreement is based on several new circumstances: the legal mistake in an appeals-verdict on December 21 of last year, the fact that Wifol-members are massively unemployed while others work under deteriorated conditions and the resort’s absolute refusal to negotiate a new collective labor agreement.

Lastly Wifol notes that until now the resort has not presented an accountant-approved financial report. The resorts attorney mr. Jairo Bloem said Friday again that honoring the collective labor agreement would saddle the company with $1.5 million in additional expenditures and that this would send the resort down dire financial streets. He also said that the employees are just interested in money, not in a job. The resort offered 91 Wifol-members a new contract (stripped of fringe benefits), but only 37 signed. According to Wifol the resort refused to give them a copy of their contracts.

Wifol’s attorneys pointed to an anomaly in the figures the resort presented: the interest percentage on its mortgage. That is a bit over 10 percent. According to the brief, this is between 3 and 5 percent above the market. “The purpose of this high interest is clear to Wifol. The plaintiffs are taking money out of the company and off-island, together with their financer Quantum Investment Trust. This document – though not verified by an accountant – shows what had been stated repeatedly and what has not been contested: QIT, Royal Resorts, and the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company are part of the same group. Everyone understands that charging a normal interest rate would resort in a completely different financial picture.”

The attorneys conclude that the plaintiff’s refusal to open their books or to provide information about the structure of their organization “will not benefit them in weighing the interests of both parties. On the other side are the interest of 140 employees and their families. Wifol’s interests therefore prevail.”

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Comments (2)

 

  1. Wifol’s continues to create more financial road blocks for Simpson Bay. Should this continue then the resort will be owned by another company and then Wifol can start all over again. All this is doing is causing St. Maatin to look very bad. The Judge surly will rule against Wifol. This has to stop. Wifol can pay my AMF.

  2. Dave in DC says:

    Selling the resort for a profit is already in play. The new RR manager overseeing renovatoins said as much in a letter to the owners. This is a continuation of Corso, Sutton, and James long term plan. Take over a resort with 60 million in equity. Abuse it under the claim that QIT is not part of RR and the former owners/board are to blame for everything and resoponsible for the employees. If it becomes to big a hassle sell it for tens of millions more than it cost to take it. Even with all the fees and expenses they still come out multimillionaires in the end.