A pilot boat operated by Coloured Fin.
EUSTATIUS–All for One labour union stated that an employee of maritime company Coloured Fin NV was sent home due to health reasons. Union Secretary Jacintha R. Brice said that worker, who has been employed by the line boat company for about ten years, was sent home without any previous warning.
“All for One has been for years attempting dialogue with Coloured Fin, a company from Trinidad and Tobago. The complaints against this company have been numerous and they avoid any form of dialogue. Attempts at negotiating a Collective Labour Agreement are also avoided with a constant postponement of meetings with many excuses.
Local employees are the main targets and are tired of the company’s bullying,” Brice said.
This case is just one of many issues employees have to deal with on a daily basis, Brice stated. “The medical exams were performed since November 2018, so this decision came as a surprise three months after the results were received by Coloured Fin. Rumour has it that the company might be leaving St. Eustatius and has started an elimination process to get rid of its employees.
Contacted for comment Coloured Fin referred to “the employee in question” as the company could not give out any medical information to a third party.
On the rumour of the company planning to leave the island, a company representative stated he was not in the position to provide any comment about this question as he was unaware of the circumstances surrounding this issue.
The employee, who only wanted to be identified with his initials A.R. stated that he was sent home until further notice with pay so he could deal with his health. He stated that when he was sent home he had already seen his doctor and has to return at a later date to receive his medical results.
Raquel Spanner-Carty highlighted the role of the Labour Office when it comes to termination, which is mediation between the employer and the employee.
“We will try to get to the bottom of the problem and try to show each side the law. We are impartial when it comes to that, but unfortunately our advice is not binding. You are free to take the advice but you don’t have to follow it. If someone decides to take the issue to a court the law it will decide who is right or wrong, which is why the Labour Office always uses the law when it comes to any guidance on labour issues,” she said.
The rules pertaining to the hiring and firing of workers are laid down in the Labour Law “Arbeidswet 2000 BES,” which includes stipulation about when an employer can fire a worker on the spot. Theft or fraud are two of the reasons to fire someone immediately.
“Other than that, you have to request dismissal at the Labour Office. An employer cannot just fire someone. If it’s not something that allows immediate dismissal, you have to file a petition at the Labour Office for permission to fire someone,” Spanner-Carty said.
During a probationary period, the length of which is determined between a newly hired employee and the employer, it is a free-for-all. If the employee is not to the employer’s satisfaction, he can dismiss the employee without any repercussion, and the employee can also leave without penalty. After the trial period is over the employee becomes permanent and that person can no longer be fired at will.
“You can dismiss someone on valid grounds, if you have caught them stealing or fraud for example, but if you have other reasons for dismissal, such as when you feel the person is not functioning properly, then you have to state your case to a dismissal committee. Petitions to the dismissal committee can be filed at the Labour Office,” Spanner-Carty said.
The Labour Office can also play a role in the termination of labour contracts. An employer cannot wait until the contract has ended but has to give the employee notice that the contract is up for renewal next month and that the employer will not be renewing the employee’s contract. “All these rules are stipulated in the law,” Spanner-Carty said.