THE HAGUE–As far as Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops knows, 115 persons who worked at the St. Eustatius oil terminal were dismissed, and not 80 as was initially reported.
The majority was not dismissed by the terminal’s operator Global Terminal Investment Statia (GTIS), but by the sub-contractors working for GTIS, clarified the Minister in response to written questions by Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Chris van Dam of the Christian-Democrat Party CDA.
The Member of Parliament (MP) last month sought clarity from the Minister after an article in The Daily Herald which stated that contractors laid off 80 workers at the Statia oil storage terminal. Van Dam asked why these workers were dismissed and what the consequences were of the sale of the NuStar oil terminal to Prostar Capital/GTIS.
Minister Knops explained that GTIS will, in the future, start a new tender, and that for now it is unknown when this will take place. He stated that the reason for the dismissal was cost-cutting related. Not all dismissed workers have reported at the Social Affairs and Labour SZW unit of the National Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN.
A walk-in event on February 21 for dismissed employees attracted a mere six persons. The event was organised by multiple parties, including the Public Entity St. Eustatius, SZW-RCN, Youth Care and Family Guardianship, the Court of Guardianship, the Tax Office, Windward Islands Bank and Mental Health Caribbean. The event, aimed at providing preventive assistance, was announced via the radio and on Facebook.
As for the economic consequences of the sale of the terminal, Knops said that up to the time of the dismissals there had been none. “There is no overview of the economic consequences of the recent dismissals as yet. It is unclear whether the dismissals would have taken place without the sale, if NuStar still had been the owner.”
MP Van Dam also asked about the measures that the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate ILT of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management recently took regarding GTIS.
The Minister explained that ILT in December 2019 initiated enforcement because multiple storage tanks were not inspected on time and the fire-suppressing provisions clearly did not comply with the norms. Seeing that these tanks are being used to store fuel in the highest risk class, they cannot be used until GTIS has shown that they comply with the norms.
GTIS management, ILT and the National Water Authority, the department that issues the permit, had a meeting on February 27. At this meeting, GTIS committed itself to proving to the authorities that a number of tanks can be used on the short term and that other tanks will be temporarily decommissioned for maintenance.
Knops confirmed Van Dam’s estimate that the oil terminal, directly and indirectly, makes up for about 60 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He said the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) could provide no specific data about the oil terminal for reasons of confidentiality.
As for economic incentives, Knops noted that the Dutch government has been investing in the stabilisation of the cliff under Fort Oranje, and that money has been made available for social-economic initiatives and ecological projects.
“It is evident that the island’s economic structure is facing challenges. The Government Commissioner will be working on “A Road Map to Statia 2030” in which a sustainable economic strategy for the island will be described,” the Minister stated.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/not-80-but-115-were-laid-off-at-statia-oil-terminal