PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — On Tuesday, Member of Parliament, (MP) Claudius Buncamper, of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) faction in parliament, sent a letter to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs addressing the local sub-contractors who were left without payment for works they carried out for MER Sint Maarten B.V., the company contracted by TELEM. “The local contractors have been left hanging with huge unpaid invoices”, MP Buncamper stated in his letter to the PM.
Some of the local contractors have taken MER Sint Maarten to court and won their cases, but there are no assets and no money that can be seized in order to pay the local sub-contractors.
The MP stated that he was made to believe that MER Sint Maarten have filed for bankruptcy, but he has no confirmation to substantiate this. The MP further stated that he has learned that the mother company of MER in Israel has filed a court case against TELEM.
“If this is the case, then this turns out to be a very disturbing situation, seeing that MER Sint Maarten B.V. was working for the government owned company TELEM.
No arrangements for security were in place to protect the local subcontractors in the event of a breach of contract” the MP explained. As there is a new contractor presently doing the fiber network for TELEM, the MP submitted numerous questions and suggestions to the Prime Minister.
MP Buncamper questioned if there is a clause in the present contract between TELEM and the current contractor that protects the local contractors from “being duped again”. If there is no such clause, will government ensure that one is included in the present contract in order to protect the local sub-contractors?
“Will government, through the labor department, review and adjust the policies for doing business on the island to ensure that the local labor market is protected from exploitation and abuse when foreign companies leave the island?” MP Buncamper wonders why the mother company of MER Sint Maarten B.V. was not compelled to guarantee the works of MER Sint Maarten B.V. seeing that the work-contract was signed with the mother company and not with MER Sint Maarten B.V.
In his letter, the MP elaborated that “there are numerous complaints that many of the subcontractors working for the new contractor K-N are employing illegal foreign laborers” and suggested that government ensures that the competent authorities carry out regular worksite visits to prevent these illegalities from occurring.
Can government also verify with SZV if the existing workers are duly insured by the companies, MP Buncamper asked in his letter.