Labor mediator Boasman presents annual report to De Weever

POSTED: 03/31/14 11:21 PM

St. Maarten – Labor mediator Raphael Boasman presented the first annual report of his office to Labor Minister Cornelius de Weever yesterday morning at the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall. The report recommends the establishment of a separate bureau for the mediator and his team. Currently, the bureau is a part of the Labor Department. A separation will “boost the image and impartiality of the mediator,” the report states.

During a brief presentation mediator Boasman explained the function of his office, saying that mediation should not be confused with negotiation.

The report states that the previous mediator (Derrick Holiday – ed.) did not keep records of mediation activities over 2011 and 2012. “This made it very difficult, if not impossible, to verify the different claims made by parties involved in disputes,” the report states.

The report furthermore states that the mediator has been able to resolve all disputes in 2013 to the satisfaction of all parties, with the exception of the referendum among employees at St. Maarten Cable TV. All workers at this company are entitled to participate in a referendum (to decide which union will represent them), the report states. The St. Maarten Cable TV employees voted for the St. Maarten Communication Union to represent them but the company disagreed and took the matter to court. In a so-called Lar-procedure, the employees won the first round, but St. Maarten Cable TV appealed the decision. The case is still pending.

Boasman said that there are a lot of pending negotiations between workers and companies – some of them going back as much as five to six years.

The report mentions that the United Federation of the Windward Islands (Ufa) has 18 cases pending for meditation. One collective labor agreement – with Menzies – has been settled in the meantime.

Boasman said that a registration system for collective labor agreements is under development. This way, employees will always have access to these agreements and the rights and obligations they contain. In 2013, unions signed ten collective labor agreements with a diverse range of companies.

The office of the mediator is working on a code of conduct, mediation regulations, a mediation agreement and a mediation settlement agreement. These documents will be approved in the course of this year.

The report concludes that mediation “is fulfilling a socio-economic need” and that more information about labor mediation should be parted with stakeholders and the public.

Boasman expects that the requests for mediation and for referenda (whereby employees vote on the union they want to represent them) will increase significantly.

Minister De Weever said, after receiving the report, that one of the topics under consideration is whether the country needs just one mediator, or a group of mediators. The latter concept could be useful in case an appointed mediator is considered to be in a conflict of interest in any particular case.


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