MP questions dismissal, transfer of Maho staff

~ Spadaro: Staff to retain all benefits ~  

PHILIPSBURG–National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Tuesday questioned the collective dismissal of employees of the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino and the rehiring of the employees under a different company.

   Maho official Saro Spadaro, however, said 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.

Spadaro said all workers are being transferred and all staffers will maintain 100 per cent of their seniority and accrued rights and benefits. “All employee benefits remain untouched. All employees retain their years of service,” he said, via the company’s media relations firm.

According to Spadaro, the process started six months ago and has been carried out by the Group’s managers, attorneys, Labour Mediator Rafael Bosman, the legal advisor to the Ministry of Labour, and the Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU). “Over the course of the last two and a half months, information sessions were held in each department, offering answers to questions and advice. In fact, our memos to employees state that they are of course able and encouraged to seek legal advice and to contact their union representatives,” Spadaro said.

He said Boasman, the joint legal counsel and the union “all endorsed” the process and “actually complimented the Maho Group’s handling of this business decision and its considerate transition for its employees.”

He said Social and Health Insurance SZV was also informed and has acknowledged that employees were being transferred to wholly owned subsidiaries.

“Furthermore, in the unlikely event of the bankruptcy of one of the subsidiaries, Resort of the World NV would stand as ultimate guarantor for any cessantia accrued during the years of service of the employees with Resort of the World NV, should a claim for cessantia be lodged with SZV not be paid because of the transfer of the employees,” Spadaro said.

   “Mr. Rafael Boasman told me personally that he has thoroughly vetted the process and documentation and that he is very satisfied that the rights and interests of the employees were fully protected,” Spadaro said.

WICSU/PSU President Julia Solagnier said in a comment issued by Maho’s media relations firm that the Maho Group approached the union several months ago, provided an explanation to the reasons for the transfer of the employees and was “transparent and forthcoming” on the transfer process.

“WICSU keenly examined the documentation, requested the involvement of the Labour Mediator, challenged every point to ensure the rights and interests of the employees were being protected, and, only after being completely satisfied, signed the transfer agreement and related documents,” Solagnier said in the statement.

In the meantime, Emmanuel said some of the workers were intimidated into signing the document given to them. The MP said on June 12, he was contacted by a group of 15 concerned employees of the Maho Group. During a meeting with them, Emmanuel said he was informed that on June 9, employees received a combined termination and new contract document.

They also received a memo from Maho’s assistant General Manager Jack Schultz, who indicated that all employees would be terminated from the current employer and transferred to a new company effective June 13.

Emmanuel has dispatched a number of questions on the matter to Labour Minister Emil Lee via the Chairperson of Parliament. The MP said he is “very much concerned with the manner in which the developments are taking place.” Emmanuel also questioned the role of the WICSU/PSU union in the process.

Source: Daily Herald
MP questions dismissal, transfer of Maho staff