PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Member of Parliament (MP) of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 posed a number of questions to the Minister of labor, Richard Panneflek, in regards to the number of resent complaints by employees of illegal dismissals taking place by employers.
The MP stated in his letter to the minister that “As a result of the challenges we face from COVID-19, the country is now confronted with numerous complaints of labor abuse against employees of a number of companies such as Little Switzerland and the Towers at Mullet Bay, just to name two.”
The employees’ complaints amount primarily to not being dismissed and still not being paid. MP Buncamper indicated that our labor laws are not being adhered to by some companies despite the fact that they are clear and specific when it pertains to the dismissal procedures.
“The social and economic effects these actions by some employers will have on our country can be devastating” MP Buncamper revealed, “sending employees home with very little financial means will most certainly result in unwelcome civil unrest, which the country does not want at a time that we are trying to preserve our season.”
It is a known fact that some companies transfer their assets to their sister companies overseas while leaving their employees here stranded.
In view of the aforementioned, the USP MP requested clarification from the minister on a number of enquiries. “What is the role of the Inspectorate of labor in these cases?” the MP queried, and how successful is the labor office in assisting employees who have fallen victim to employers who wrongly dismiss them without adequate compensation?
The MP also inquired why the government is seeking legal advice against the owner of The Towers at Mullet Bay instead of issuing the employees a yellow card.
The case against the owner of the Towers at Mullet Bay can be costly and may drag on over a lengthy period of time. The MP also probed why the labor office is not mandated to represent the employees that have been wrongly dismissed or sent home without adequate compensation in court. Other questions posed by the MP included “How can employees be guaranteed that they are/will be rightfully compensated by their employer(s) who have received financial subsidy via the SSRP?” and “What repercussions are in place for employers who have received support via the SSRP and have not passed on the payment to their employees?”