Minister VSA Addresses Concerns of Dismissal Advisory Committee

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Minister VSA, Emil Lee recently countersigned the National Decree appointing the new members to the Dismissal Advisory Committee (DAC). The DAC is an advisory body that advises the Secretary General of VSA based on collective and individual requests for dismissal, submitted to the Department of Labor Affairs.

On March 8th, the Department of Labor held an introductory meeting to discuss procedures, roles and tasks with the new incoming members. It is important to note that the role of the DAC is solely to provide advice; it does not make decisions. Ultimately, decisions to dismiss employees are taken by the Secretary General of VSA.

In addition to new members being appointed with the resignation of the former DAC in January 2018, the DAC is now governed under new legislation. The amended DAC legislation was signed off in June 2016, this updated procedures, established a code of conduct to provide guidelines, removed the concept of hearings from employers and workers to solely focus on evidence based, written reports and many other adjustments, which have all modernized the manner in which labor disputes are regulated on Sint Maarten.

“The amendments to the DAC legislation, appointment of new members, and the scheduled upcoming trainings will ensure a smoother functioning committee and decision making process. This is another step forward in our mission to modernize labor legislation, and an essential component to the dismissal process on the island as it provides an additional safeguard to ensure that the process is fair and balanced.”

 “The statement appearing in media outlets this week on the subject matter by WIFOL union leader Mr. Thompson was rather surprising. Contrary to remarks made by Mr Thompson, unions were informed of the introductory meeting and a WIFOL representative was present. However, seeing that we have such a close working relationship, I met with Mr. Thompson that day just to make sure we were all on the same page, and I am happy to report that it was a matter of miscommunication.” The Ministry of VSA remains committed to making strong efforts to ensure all social partners are well informed and involved in the process.

The Ministry will be providing training sessions for the incoming members to make sure they are up to date with the rules, their roles, responsibilities, applicable legislation, familiar with the forms to be utilized, etc. The DAC consists of:

– 3 representatives from employee organizations and 3 substitutes;

– 3 representatives from employer organizations and 3 substitutes; and

– 2 representatives from Government who have a non-voting position – a chair and a secretary as well as their substitutes.

“When we speak about voting the idea is that through dialogue and discussion the DAC attempts to present a mutually agreed upon recommendation/advice to the Secretary General of VSA. I congratulate all newly appointed members, and thank the former members for their service to the country”, stated Minister Lee at Wednesday’s press briefing.​