~ Stakeholders concerned general strike will affect tourism ~
MARIGOT–The general strike called for by unions this coming Thursday on the French side may not be as fully subscribed as first thought, according to reports that three unions did not sign on to participate or said that they had been erroneously included.
It was understood the four unions participating are SUD PTT GWA, Soualiga United Collective, SPEG and Union General des Travailleurs de Guadeloupe (UGTG).
Confederation General des Travailleurs de Guadeloupe (CGTG) said in a press release it had not been consulted about the strike, that any intention to strike would need to be voted on, and consequently it was “not discussed with our St. Martin comrades.”
Another union, UNSA, said in a statement said while it recognised “the importance and usefulness to unite in addressing problems,” in this case its name had been added to the list without permission.
The union FO also said it is not participating on Thursday.
Meanwhile, stakeholders are concerned over the damage a general strike may cause to tourism.
The Saint-Martin/St. Maarten stakeholder’s meeting, composed of both airports, tourism offices, ports, chambers of commerce and hotel associations, has convened on a monthly basis for the past year to discuss tourism-related issues affecting both sides of the island. The consequences of the general strike announced by various unions for April 11 on the French side was tabled as a point of concern during last Friday’s meeting.
Although understanding the social components, St. Martin stakeholders wished to bring awareness to all parties involved of the short-term effects on the island’s already fragile economy.
“At the peak of the 2018-2019 tourism season, a shutdown can only have negative impact. It poses serious security-related issues for the airport should personnel not be allowed to access their workplace. If mandatory security measures are not met, the snowball effect is inevitable, equating to passengers being stuck on the ground. The same goes for the port,” stakeholders stressed in a press release.
“International cruise-industry-related negotiations are also underway and it goes without saying that social peace is a primary decision-making factor when entering those discussions.
“The overall negative impact this will have on an international level cannot be foreseen.
“St. Martin stakeholders plead with all parties involved to remember that the rebuilding process of the island has come a long way, but still has a long way to go and that every decision taken affects all layers of society. All sectors need to work hand-in-hand to ensure the advancement of the island and find a resolution to the conflict.”
The union demands are diverse. They are asking for “the immediate resolution of the ongoing conflict between the Collectivité and CTOS; the immediate opening of negotiations on the future of residents, staff and the construction of the medical and social centre and senior citizen’s home; elimination of complicated and abusive procedures for the reconstruction of St. Martin following Hurricane Irma; matching training to employment needs in the region; defence of public service and the maintenance of all post offices in full operation.”
In addition: “Safety and compliance with standards in all educational establishments in St. Martin, provision of classrooms in schools to accommodate all students; end of co-intervention in còlleges due to a lack of rooms; provision of a precise timetable for the reconstruction of Soualiga Còllege; revision of the vocational school’s permanent staff for the next school year; the monitoring of school reconstruction work by the Collectivité, finalisation of the work undertaken in schools; reconstruction of the media library; construction of sports facilities to enable all students to practice sports in accordance with regulatory texts; compliance with the hotels’ collective agreement to improve working conditions; decrease in selling prices per square metre for land located in the 50 pas geometric zones, and ‘no’ to expropriation.”