While the dismissal of seven employees is being sought by the University of St. Martin (USM), the WIFOL has learned that renewal of employment and immigration documents have been filed, for the librarian, a non-national, by the same institution, under conspicuous circumstances.

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Without the dismissal process even being finalized, three of the seven workers who also have administrative duties, are being marginalized and not being invited to staff meetings. The three employees claim that they are being discriminated against while the request for their dismissal is still being processed and they also questioned whether the labor laws on St. Maarten are really there to safeguard the rights of employees. They added that tactics tantamount to bribery are also being used to break their will. Country St. Maarten they maintain, needs education and educated population to be sustainable while limiting and eventually halting the reliance on imported skilled and unskilled labor.
The WIFOL also learned that attempts are being made by the security company, which submitted a bid to USM for its services, to absorb the USM security guards even before the dismissal process is heard by the dismissal committee. USM is also claiming that the Humanities position will not be renewed once the contract has expired but the WIFOL has learned that there are plans for afoot to rehire the same person in a “development” capacity.
With regards to the librarian, he has been at USM since 2008. He was hired after USM raised over 1.8 million dollars in pledges and donations from the community and much of that money went to paying the exorbitant salaries of the same librarian, the former chief financial officer and former dean, all non-nationals. As far as the librarian’s duties are concerned, the university has also had him performing duties as IT technician, contrary to his work permit. USM also failed to renew the contract of a local IT technician with more networking experience in favor of the librarian who now has been sent off island, reportedly with the ticket being paid by USM, until his immigration and employment documents are processed. In the meanwhile, with finals and deadlines for projects fast approaching, the USM library will be manned by a Work Study.
While he has been on the island working since 2008, the documents for librarian are reportedly being treated as a new application, under the guise of him returning to head-up an IT function. There are many qualified local IT technicians on the island who can do his job, WIFOL stated. In addition, the academic coordinator of IT, another local, has been relegated to the position of a lab attendant and is now being laid off.
While the dismissal of seven employees is being sought, the university also sent out requests on Tuesday to students to send in their resumes and come for interviews to fill positions, as part of the Work Study Program, in the Admissions Office, Business Office, Computer Lab, GED/Humanities Office, and Student Service Center.
USM, with the blessing of its board, is claiming restructuring and financial hardship as the reasons for the layoffs, but all the employees cite the reason as being personal. The president who has no background in education or the running of educational institutions is the one who proposed the dismissals to the board and the board then gave its blessings. WIFOL questions what example USM, which exists is to educate and teach, is setting for the young people and population of this nation.
The WIFOL has also learned that USM is reportedly seeking to become an educational broker, and could eventually phase out offering its own programs. This is contrary to what a university is and how a university functions. The government of St. Maarten needs to seriously look at the establishment of a university for the island nation that links all of the schools and also produces the types of citizens that are desirable for progress and development of this country.