Where was the government of Sint Maarten?
A meeting requested by the Democratic Party of Sint Maarten to get a clear answer from the N.A./Heyliger government on the foreign employment permit policy was turned into a circus by the same government members who laud their government as being one of a "new beginning".
The position presented during this meeting by the Democratic Party is the same this party has held as the DP administration, namely the need to revise and update the foreign employment permit policy of 2003 to be more in tune with the current day needs of the labor market on Sint Maarten. The tenets of a new policy being: expansion of employment opportunities for nationals and those already residing and working on Sint Maarten; dignified treatment of all workers; a streamlined and clear policy for employers; training of locals and advancing of Sint Maarten’s culture and values through familiarization.
The Democratic Party has maintained from day one that the policy as promulgated on November 12, 2008 and gone into effect on January 12, 2009 came about through tripartite consultation and any amendments to this policy should follow the same route, namely through consultation with the private sector partners.
Approximately one week after taking office and without any consultation, the NA/Heyliger government announces that it had decided to shelve the new policy; then it announced it had been withdrawn to review it; then the government announced they had reverted to the previous policy and then on the 6th of July, the NA/Heyliger government announced that the new policy is still in effect.
The opportunity for the NA/Heyliger to state its position on the foreign employment permit policy was given on July 14th when the meeting requested by the Democratic Party faction was convened. However, what seemed to be most important to the NA/Heyliger members present was the fact that they were called from recess and could not celebrate Bastille Day. So they waltz into the meeting at their leisure, sign in at their leisure and what do we see?
Firstly, the NA member, R. Samuel, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he is part of a NA controlled government fires off a barrage of questions, ostensibly to the previous government members.
Then to top it off, the leader of the NA, Commissioner Marlin signs the speakers’ list as a member of the island council (!), put s his role as Commissioner and leader of Government aside, and takes somebody or some government to task, seemingly oblivious to the fact as well, that he is now "the government". He talks of everything under the sun and some as a member of the island council, states his regrets when his time as island council member is up and briefly announces that his government will review the foreign employment permit policy, without giving any indication when and what happens in the meantime. The Commissioner of Labor, Mr. H. Richardson sits by without uttering a word with respect to the statements he made about the same policy in the press.
The Democratic party came to this meeting of the island council prepared to lend its support to what it believes the government should do to return peace and tranquility in the labor market of Sint Maarten. The motion which the Democratic Party came prepared to submit and which is attached supports this premise.
With the action of the NA/Heyliger government the people of Sint Maarten are once again left with the words spoken by the leader of the NA/Heyliger government : "When it’s ready, you will know".
That’s a new beginning for you.
July 14, 2009
That the Federal Ordinance, Publication Sheet 2001 nr 82 granted the authority to the Executive Councils of the respective Island Territories of the Netherlands Antilles to enact policies with reference to the granting of work permits;
That the Executive Council of the Island Territory of Sint Maarten by Island Resolution enacting general measures "AB 2003 nr 6 " promulgated a resolution based on which requests for obtaining a working permit in accordance with the Federal Ordinance (PB 2001 nr 82) can be granted or denied;
That the Executive Council having heard the social partners, in 2006 decided that the 2003 policy on granting work permits to foreigners (AB 2003 nr. 6), needed to be examined as to its effectiveness;
That this resolution enacting general measures of 2003 was examined by a tripartite committee, consisting of labor, business and government and it was decided to draft a new policy in line with the observations and recommendations of all 3 partners;
That the Executive Council of the Island Territory of Sint Maarten by Island Resolution enacting general measures "AB 2008 nr 37" promulgated a revised resolution based on the discussions with the private sector partners, establishing criteria based on which requests for obtaining a work permit in accordance with the PB 2001 nr 82 can be granted or denied;
That above mentioned Island Resolution went into effect per January 12, 2009;
That the basis for the policy of said Island Resolution was established after thorough input by the Chamber of Labor Unions, the business sector represented by the Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association and the Sint Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Government representatives consisting of the interim Head of the Department of Social Welfare and Labor and his legal advisor;
That it was decided by the Executive Council after consultation with the private sector partners mentioned above, that a full review of the policy will take place in August of 2009;
That parties also agreed that prior to the full review in August of 2009, parties would adjust the policy and eliminate certain pressing elements, which obstruct the private sector from (adequately) complying with some of the conditions as laid down in the policy;
That the tripartite committee on January 21, 2009 agreed on those items of the policy that needed to be adjusted post-haste:
That the matters to be immediately changed in the work permit policy of 2009 were elaborated on in a Memorandum of Understanding, to be signed by the social partners;
That the Commissioner of Labor, Mr. Hyacinth Richardson has indicated that the Executive Council on June 16, 2009, decided to withdraw the policy as laid down in AB 2008, nr. 37 ;
That same Commissioner shortly thereafter indicated that the 2009 (AB 2008 nr. 37) policy remains in effect;
That the Executive Council subsequently confirmed that the 2009 policy is to be "reworked";
That an adequate legal basis should always be in place for employers, employees and prospective employees to be in a position to know the basis for obtaining or denial of a work permit;
That this legal basis also facilitates the Appeals Committee in providing their advice to the Executive Council when handling appeals on denials, as well as the Court of First Instance when dealing with appeals brought before the courts;
That the tripartite committee has already agreed to a number of adjustments to the policy to go into effect immediately;
To request the Executive Council to ratify the draft Memorandum of Understanding, which memorandum establishes a measure of flexibility in the application of the policy in the areas of housing, advertising of vacancies, moratorium, grace period, director’s license.
To request the Executive Council in its further review of the 2009 work permit policy (AB 2008 nr. 37) to consider among others, regulating employment agencies, an administration fee versus upfront work permit fee; dispensation on the age limits.