VSA Ministry disapproves of Cable TV workers’ dismissal

PHILIPSBURG–The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA on Thursday denied Caribbean Teleview N.V. permission to terminate the labour agreements with eighteen St. Maarten Cable TV employees.

The Secretary-General based this decision on the redundancy plan, which was deemed unsatisfactory, as well as on the grave impact of dismissal on the livelihoods of employees, Bermon Law Office stated Friday.

The workers’ legal representatives also said the Secretary-General had taken into account in the decision not to give permission for layoffs that Caribbean Teleview was not in an emergency situation. Therefore, the dismissal of Cable TV workers was not found reasonable and socially acceptable.

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The company requested a dismissal permit from the Labour Department on December 5, 2017. By an undated ministerial decision, the Secretary-General of Labour Affairs was granted until March 1, 2018, to decide on the request.

The Court of First Instance ruled in favour of St. Maarten Communications Union (SMCU) on December 28, 2017, in an injunction against TelEm Group to prevent the company from dismissing St. Maarten Cable TV workers. TelEm Group purchased Cable TV on September 20, 2016.

The Court ordered TelEm and St. Maarten Cable TV to finalise a manpower assessment by January 20, 2018, at the latest, based on continued Cable TV operation. Based on the assessment, TelEm and Cable TV would have to arrange the transfer of Cable TV workers to TelEm and arrange the retirement of redundant workers or provide them with assistance by an independent consultant by February 10, 2018, at the latest.
In case of non-compliance, the Court attached penalties of US $10,000 per day, to a maximum of $1 million.

In a notice of closure sent out to all Cable TV employees on November 1, 2017, it was stated that the Cable TV operation would be terminated as per December 31, 2017, for lack of financial feasibility.

The company claimed that Cable TV had suffered losses for years and Hurricanes Irma and Maria had caused damage to its network. Following the hurricanes, the number of Cable TV clients dropped from 6,000 to 2,000.
Cable TV had a shortage of liquid assets and could barely pay workers’ salaries and bonuses, it was stated late last year.
SMCU contested the declining numbers of Cable TV subscribers and the company’s damaged network.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/74256-vsa-ministry-disapproves-of-cable-tv-workers-dismissal

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