Pelican Resort workers jubilant at tri-partite agreement

POSTED: 03/9/11 11:53 AM

St. Maarten – Workers of the former Pelican Resort said a prayer of thanks in front of the Government Administration Building and thanked their attorneys Maarten Le Poole and Wim van Sambeek on Tuesday afternoon because an agreement has been reached that will allow them to go back to work. The document was signed by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, President of the Workers Institute for Organised Labor (Wifol) Theophilus Thompson, the union’s General Secretary Elva Blijden Richardson, and the attorney for Simpson Bay Resort Management Company (SBRMC) Jairo Bloem in the Dr. A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall. (See related story on page 3)
Wescot-Williams said it had been a long process to reach the agreement and that very often things that needed to be said, could not be said to ensure that negotiations continued. She also reaffirmed that the government remained concerned about all of the stakeholders at the resort.
“Every day that this agreement was not signed is a day that the resort was not open. As a government we looked at all the issues, including the licenses, the tax issues, the feasibility of our own petition and the communication with the timeshare owners who may not have fully understood how the government was working on this matter. We realized very early that this situation was not about just the workers, and that it was not just about the company. What we have now is that St. Maarten has come out of this with some bruises to its image, but we also have a long term solution,” the prime minister said.
In a direct statement to the employees Wescot-Williams added, “There was not one day where you were worried that the government was not also worried.”
Thompson and members left yesterday’s signing still not understanding why the resort closed and stressed that the union had kept the broader interest of the workers’ dependants in view.
“For Wifol this is a remarkable day but it is important to mention that the resort should not have been closed at all. We see no reason to have shut out the workers and homeowners. We now look forward to Simpson Bay Resort continuing to be a dynamic factor in our island’s economy and we, as union and workers, are willing to contribute to the resorts continued moving forward,” Thompson said.
He added, “With this agreement we have a commitment that the resort will reopen in 10 days, that the employees will come back to work and the timeshare owners will be able to come back and enjoy the hospitality they are accustomed to.”
Attorney for the new owners of Simpson Bay Resort and Marina and The Villas at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina Jairo Bloem called Tuesday “a remarkable and beautiful day and a day of new beginnings that would not have come about without the leadership of the prime minister and the hard work of Rafael Boasman and Hensley Plantijn.”
“This is a temporary solution but my client is happy that we have reached an agreement pending further litigation. In the coming days we will be publishing the figures relating to the company, including to a website, so the whole community of St. Maarten can see that this resort needs continued and structural investment. For now we see that when parties come together we can have a compromise,” Bloem said.
The resort management company’s attorney also announced that the property may open sooner than in the 10 day period mandated by the agreement.
At the close of the press conference the prime minister told the female workers of the resort, “I have never been more gratified to wish you Happy International Women’s Day.”

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