Mullet Bay Towers workers Howard Hanson and Nateisha Givans.
~ Nothing paid since October ~
PHILIPSBURG–Mullet Bay Towers workers continue their struggle with Towers management as they demand to be paid the salaries owed to them.
Nateisha Givans and Howard Hanson, workers of the Mullet Bay Towers and shop-stewards of Windward Islands Federation of Labour (WIFOL), gave an update on the current situation during the Anti-Poverty Platform’s weekly press conference on Thursday.
Workers said they have only received a partial salary since the COVID-19 lockdown. Workers were initially sent home late March and told that they would receive 50 per cent of their salaries until further notice.
Givans, an employee of the Towers for seven years, said workers at the Towers are facing a situation they deem unbearable.
Workers have been in discussions with the general manager (GM) of the Towers since early June. This came after several workers contacted the union and made a public outcry to the management of the Towers.
According to Givans, the Towers has not had any guests since the passing of Hurricane Irma in 2017; however, workers continued to receive their full salary. She shared her disbelief that management has claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic could now be the reason workers can no longer receive their rightful salaries.
She said that during a meeting between the GM, the representing union (WIFOL) and some of the workers in July, the latter were presented with two options by the manager: the first was for the workers to sign an agreement for the continued 50 per cent salary payment. She said workers were told by the manager that this 50 per cent payment was not guaranteed to continue.
The second option was for workers to accept a severance pay-out. The workers refused the proposals presented to them. As not all workers were present during these discussions, the workers abstained from speaking for all of their colleagues.
It was decided by the few present at that meeting that the workers would then draft a proposal with the union and present this information to management of Mullet Bay Towers.
Givans stated that this was drafted and forwarded as discussed, but no response was received for about two months. After finally reaching out, workers were made to understand that a package was being drafted by management of the Towers.
According to Givans, that package included a 70 per cent severance pay-out for the workers. This was rejected, as she said the workers demanded 100 per cent of the severance pay and all that they are legally entitled to.
The workers further demanded that they receive the remaining balance of 50 per cent in salaries owed to them since April of this year, their vacation pay and their full severance pay.
Givans read from an email sent by the general manager of the Towers, which stated that the company will discontinue payment of salaries until workers come to a decision for the settlement of the severance pay.
It was also stated that 100 per cent of the severance pay would be offered only under certain conditions: workers would have to accept this payment in four quarterly instalments.
She said that workers have not received any salaries since October. “We all have children, we have bills to pay; how will we survive?” she exclaimed. “Here in St. Maarten it is abuse and we are sick and tired. … It is frustrating.”
Her colleague Hanson said he has been an employee of the Mullet Bay Towers for 22 years. He co-signed on what was shared by Givans.
In his remarks Hanson pleaded with the general manager to avoid waiting until the situation ends up in court before he does what is right by the workers.
WIFOL President Theophilus Thompson said the Towers has been refusing to follow the legal procedure, “that is, no company can dismiss workers without permission.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/mullet-bay-towers-no-longer-paying-workers-their-salaries