PHILIPSBURG–United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Tamara Leonard and “other MPs” will be requesting an urgent meeting of Parliament with Labour Minister Emil Lee on the issue of “labourers from abroad who will be coming to St. Maarten to assist with the rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.”
According to a press release, Leonard is curious to know whether local labourers will be given first preference when it comes to the rebuilding process.
“It was stated in the media that young labourers will be given training. MP Leonard questioned as to the duration time of the training and if these young labourers are guaranteed work once the training is completed,” the release said.
“In addition to the impact on our workforce, the MP is also concerned as to immigration impact as well. It is important to protect our people as to what is being put in place to ensure that labourers from abroad will return to their country of origin once they have completed their tasks.”
Leonard is concerned about possible abuse of work and residence permits and wants to know for how long the labourers will be issued work and residence permits, what are the requirements of the companies that intend to hire foreign labourers and whether permits will be issued following the regular process or a special programme will be put in place
“The people have the right to know, especially in these tough economic times. It is important that we secure local labour before we seek to import foreign labour, because we have capable workers right here in St. Maarten. I believe that persons who have lost their jobs should be given first priority and I am sure we can find suitable labourers who are ready and willing to make a living in order to provide for their families before looking abroad,” Leonard said in the release.