Thompson wants broader discussion about short term labor contracts

POSTED: 07/13/12 12:06 PM

St. Maarten – Wifol President Theophilus Thompson agrees with the Advisory Council’s criticism of the initiative draft law that aims to curb the abuse of short term labor contracts. The Advisory Council noted in its advice about the draft law that it would make the labor market less flexible and that this would have an adverse effect on the economy. The Council also foresees that employers will simply evade the law by hiring staff through employment agencies.

Lastly, the council stated that the authors of the draft – the National alliance faction – has not substantiated that abuse of short term labor contracts indeed is taking place.

“We need a broader discussion about this. In the past short term labor contracts were even used to collect votes. The short term contracts were mainly for jobs in hotels, but the industry has changed. St. Maarten has moved from large hotels to timeshare projects and the low season does not really exist anymore. We have to do more research, and there has to be consultation, also with the unions, while the dismissal procedure has to be made more flexible,” Thompson said yesterday at the weekly press conference of the Windward Island Chamber of Labor Unions (Wiclu).

Thompson conceded that employment agencies “have a role to play,” and opposes the way they are operating now.

“These agencies should not have employees on a permanent contract on their payroll. They should be limited to recruiting and training people before sending them to the right employer,” he said.

Legislation to curb abuse “has to go hand in hand with restricting the role of employment agencies,” Thompson said.

“I favor a longer probation period. Instead of the maximum of two months we have now, it could be at least three months. But many employers are using employment agencies and their role must be restricted to recruiting.”

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