LITTLE BAY–The spotlight was placed on three persons who worked in the interest of promoting workers’ rights on Monday, May 2, in celebration of Labour Day, when three trade union stalwarts were recognised.
Honoured were Julian Lynch, Curtis Vanterpool and the late Anadeen Serbony-Mathew.
Lynch was honoured in the “Historic” category. He was an educator and former President of the Windward Islands Health Care Union Association (WIHCUA). He has a long history in the labour movement in St. Maarten and helping workers secure their rights.
Vanterpool was honoured in the category of “Most Impact” for being a trade unionist who made a lot of strides in labour working behind the scenes. He has been a Secretary for the Workers Institute for Organised Labour (WIFOL) and had played a pivotal role in helping to promote the rights of workers.
Serbony-Mathew was honoured posthumously in the “Spirit” category. She had been an educator and a member of the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) for many years. Her family members accepted the award on her behalf.
During the ceremony Labour Minister Emil Lee said in recognising the progress made in the field of labour over the years, one needs to acknowledge that the creation of meaningful, stable and sustainable employment, can only be achieved through partnership. The partnership between business, labour and Government must be a partnership built on trust, honest dialogue and compromise.
The labour tripartite is functioning well and is the absolute vehicle for this partnership, he said. “The tripartite is working diligently albeit a bit slowly on coming to a consensus on the proposed changes to the civil code which will address the abuse of the short term labour contracts. I have full confidence that the tripartite will arrive at a win-win-win agreement.”
He said labour unions see themselves as integral partners in creating sustainable, secure and rewarding jobs. “The unions recognise the undeniable link between the level of education and job security. The union leaders have not only recognised this link, but are actively participating in offering training programmes that will increase job security and more importantly provide upward mobility in terms of earnings and career advancement.”
Lee said as one takes stock of the St. Maarten of today, one should recognise that the economy is demonstrating minimal growth. He said there is a need to create higher paying jobs. Youth unemployment is also unacceptably high. The highly bureaucratic path to compliance has also had a negative impact on compliance in general.
“The connection between job security and upward mobility are inextricably tied to the health of our economy and by default the health of our tourism industry. Our tourism economy is clearly not performing optimally. Unstable Government has translated into multiple changes in leadership which have had a devastating impact on our tourism promotional efforts,” Lee said.
The good news, he noted, is that Tourism Minister Irania Arrindell is “finally seeing to it that the Tourism Authority is being put into place with funding for promotional activities.”
“Again the formula of cooperation and partnership between Government and the private sector is a clear formula for stability and economic growth.” He said improving compliance is a very important goal for the Ministry. “We are working closely with SZV (Social Health Insurances) and other strategic partners to improve compliance.”
Lee said the only formula for success is through win-win-win partnerships. “If labour wins and business and Government loses, we all lose. If business wins and labour and Government loses, we all lose. If Government wins and business and labour loses, we all lose. For this reason, the tripartite has my full support as the correct body to develop a healthy and sustainable environment for all parties to prosper.”
Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Union (WICLU) President Claire Elshot also spoke at the ceremony, which was held at the Great Bay Room at the Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and Casino.
Source: Daily Herald
Lee honours trade union stalwarts for Labour Day