PHILIPSBURG–Many workers in St. Maarten are not happy about the announcement made by Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson that businesses are allowed to open on Sunday, November 11, – St. Martin/St. Maarten Day.
“Workers are not taking this too well,” Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Union (WICLU) President Claire Elshot told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
She said workers in the private sector are not happy to have to work on a day that they should be spending with their families celebrating. “This is a sad day for St. Maarten,” the WITU President said. “The workers believe that just like all the other ethnic groups would close their businesses to observe their day, they should also close on St. Maarten Day. The workers are not taking this too well. It is infringing on their rights as workers.”
Johnson announced in a public notice recently that businesses on the Dutch side of the island have been given leave by government to open their doors on the last two mandatory shop closure days of 2018 and the first one of 2019. All businesses are allowed to open on Sunday, November 11, – St. Martin/St. Maarten Day.
Johnson stated in the public notice about the exemption to the law that this is “a means to promote economic activity through St. Maarten in these extraordinary times.” He referred to the extraordinary times as the aftermath and impact on the economy of 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Businesses can also open on December 25, Christmas Day, and on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2019. Businesses that choose to open on any or all of the closure exemption days “must adhere to all labour regulations” as prescribed by law, according to the notice.