Maho fires staffers refusing to sign transfer agreements

MAHO–The Sonesta Maho Group of Companies has moved to terminate the services of nine workers, who have so far refused to sign transfer agreements. A total of 486 employees have already signed.

Sonesta Maho Group President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Saro Spadaro told The Daily Herald on Monday that seven staffers have already been sent termination letters, one more was scheduled to receive his last evening, and another is on vacation until November. However, the letter will be sent to that person via courier. Concerned employees contacted The Daily Herald about the situation on Monday.

Spadaro said as of August 15, Resort of the World (ROTW) no longer operates Casino Royale. CM&M, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ROTW, is the operating company which now operates Casino Royale on behalf of its parent company ROTW. “Any employees who do not transition to CM&M can no longer work at Casino Royale. In the transition, all accrued rights and seniority would have been carried over from ROTW to CM&M, however, some employees refused the transition,” Spadaro said.

In mid-July, 13 Sonesta Maho Group workers won an injunction against the company. Twenty of the company’s 486 employees had filed an injunction against Resort of the World NV, the holding company of Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino, and against CM&M Services NV, Maho Hotel Operations (MHO), BV, Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) and Government, contesting moves to transfer them into a new company.

Spadaro had said earlier that the move by the company was an operational decision. He said as The Maho Group continues to “grow and prosper” with its new real estate developments and business opportunities in other destinations, the Group decided that a re-organisation of the company was necessary, thereby creating operating companies for each facet of its hospitality ventures, each of which are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Resort of The World NV. He had said that all workers are being transferred and all staffers will maintain 100 per cent of their seniority and accrued rights and benefits.

Of the 20 workers who had filed the injunction, seven signed the transfer agreement on June 1, leaving 13. As nine staffers are now being fired, the status of the remaining four who were part of the injunction could not be ascertained.

The workers disagreed with the transfer of employment agreement closed between their employer and WICSU/PSU through Labour Mediator Rafael Boasman’s mediation.

According to Maho Group, WICSU/PSU and the VSA Ministry are all in agreement that the process put forth by Maho was correctly executed. Litigants filed a petition with the Court on June 27. The case was heard June 30, with a continuation on July 7.

The Court of First Instance had established in July that contrary to the Netherlands, the Civil Code of St. Maarten does not provide a regulation for the transfer of workers from one employer to the other. This means employees must agree with their transfer by signing a new labour agreement with their new employer. The Court established that the Transfer Agreement could not be held for such an agreement and that workers therefore were not bound by the Transfer Agreement as closed between WICSU/PSU, Resort of the World, and its subsidiaries. This means that those workers who did not sign the Agreement remain employed by the Resort, which should respect their existing labour agreements in full.

The same does not go for the seven workers who signed the Agreement, because it is a legal principle that signing parties must honour an agreement, the Judge had explained. However, it was added that the Court still might declare the Transfer of Employment Agreement null and void in the main case, when the Court gives a final and more in-depth assessment of its validity and legal weight.

The Court found Maho in default as it had not informed workers about its reorganisation plans. The Court threw out the case against the mediator, but was critical of the role played by WICSU/PSU. The Judge said the union representative had acted on his own, had not informed union members and was not entitled to close the Agreement.

Source: Daily Herald
Maho fires staffers refusing to sign transfer agreements