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Friday, April 21, 2006 

Friday April 21, 2006 - Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, N.A

Social partners hit stalematein dismissal procedure talks ~ Laveist to discuss matter with Dick ~

PHILIPSBURG--Although the Labour Summit Joint Committee comprising representatives of the various social partners has reached agreement that the abuse of short-term (six-month) labour contracts should be eradicated, parties are at loggerheads over an agreement on the dismissal procedures.

This was part of the information revealed to the Executive Council during a meeting with Committee Chairman Miguel de Weever on Thursday.

Labour and Social Affairs Commissioner Louie Laveist said that while it had already been agreed that the labour laws should be made more flexible, the labour unions and private sector couldn’t reach consensus on how to proceed with making more flexible the section of the labour law that deals with dismissals.

Laveist and De Weever are scheduled to travel to Curaçao next Tuesday, April 24, to discuss this and other matters with Economic and Employment Minister Burney Elhage and Justice Minister David Dick.

Laveist said the Executive Council would meet next Tuesday and decide on how to proceed in view of this development. “We had the meeting with De Weever, but I consider the position of the Executive Council as a work in progress,” he said shortly after the meeting with De Weever Thursday.

The social partners and government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this year agreeing to increase the minimum wage in St. Maarten from NAf. 6.54 per hour to NAf. 7.79 per hour (NAf. 1,100 per month to NAf. 1,350 per month for a 40-hour work week).

The parties also agreed to work out mutually acceptable terms and conditions for the immediate implementation of the “flexibilisation” of section 1.4 of the labour laws, which deals with dismissals, and for the eradication of the abuse of short term (six-month) labour contracts by Labour Day, Monday, May 1.

They also agreed that the surtax on wages would be reduced by five per cent, from 30 per cent to 25 per cent. The latter has to be taken to the floor of the Island Council for ratification.

Laveist has asked employers to start paying workers the proposed 19.1 per cent minimum wage increase as a Labour Day gesture. He said that although the Central Government had not yet given the green light to increase the minimum wage, it would be a positive move if employers could start paying the proposed increase to workers at the low end of the income bracket.

Copyright ©2006 The Daily Herald St. Maarten

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