PHILIPSBURG-The Postal Services St. Maarten (PSS) workers who will lose their jobs as part of the downsizing of the company will get help in finding “possible alternative employment.”
Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin told reporters at the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday that once the process of downsizing PSS has been completed authorities will work with them to find possible alternative work.
She said PSS had been in a difficult financial position over the years which had been exacerbated by the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. “The current monthly income of PSS is simply not sufficient to cover their monthly expenses,” she said.
Government has been financially supporting the operations of PSS under the current circumstances, and as a result of this “unsustainable financial situation” a committee consisting of PSS management, St. Maarten Communications Union (SMCU), the cabinet of the PM and Government Accountant Bureau SOAB was formed in July. The committee’s objective is to oversee the downsizing and reorganisation of PSS to create a sustainable operation that will continue to carry out its core postal tasks.
The committee has had several meetings since its formation and SMCU and PSS management presented a downsizing agreement and plans to PSS employees on August 17.
The rights of employees during the transition process, in accordance with their collective labour agreement (CLA) and their social plan, were explained and employees were given the agreement for downsizing PSS, the transition organisational structure and the formation plan. Workers were also given the opportunity to ask questions and were asked to fill in a form indicating their choice.
An Appeals Committee consisting of three independent persons was also formed for employees who want to contest management’s decision.
According to Romeo-Marlin, the concession to provide postal services was given to PSS after St. Maarten became a country within the Dutch Kingdom on October 10, 2010, and government has an obligation by international law and treaties to provide postal services to the public.
“Considering that the PSS building was destroyed by Irma and Maria, the government of St. Maarten has decided to provide PSS with an alternative location in the building that previously housed the Department of Civil Registry. This will eliminate the current rental payments and reduce the overall monthly expenses of PSS,” she said.
PSS currently has 23 employees, including management. In the future reorganised structure, PSS will consist of 14 persons divided over six functions the Prime Minister said are necessary to provide core postal services in a sustainable manner. She said the committee had been asked to conduct the downsizing in a responsible, legal and transparent manner.
“Once the process is completed, we will work with the other individuals to find possible alternative employment,” she said.