PHILIPSBURG–Workers Institute for Organised Labour (WIFOL) President Theophilus Thompson said on Tuesday that some employers have been threatening not to renew the permits of their workers who stand up for their rights.
He told reporters at a press conference that the union has received complaints from workers, many of whom refuse to give up their rights, particularly those who are unionised, that they are being threatened that their papers will not be renewed.
He said also that there has been a conspiracy amongst some employers to deliberately delay the renewal of their workers’ permits to create a gap. Having a gap can prevent workers from obtaining their permanent residency and from qualifying for the naturalisation exams.
“This is not right and it is not correct,” Thompson said. “Not because someone decides to go against the wishes of their employer means that their rights should be taken away.”
Thompson believes that filing for residence permits should not be the employers’ responsibility, it should be the workers’ responsibility. He said he has seen security officers work 12- to 16-hour shifts nonstop because they feel obliged to do so for fear of not having their documents renewed.
Both Thompson and Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) President Claire Elshot alluded to World Social Justice Day, which was observed on Tuesday under the theme: “Social justice of migrant workers is in everyone’s interest.”
Thompson said a very large number of workers in St. Maarten are migrant workers and irrespective of their colour, race, or nationality, they are all protected not only by local laws, but also by international labour conventions.
Elshot said many migrant workers from around the world face injustice, particularly women. Many end up trapped in low-paying jobs primarily in the informal economy and are subjected to high recruitment fees, amongst other ills. She said treating migrant workers correctly has many benefits and encouraged employers to do the right thing.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/73870-wifol-employers-threatening-not-to-renew-workers-papers