SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With the St. Maarten Stimulus and Relief Plan (SSRP) in its second month of execution, it is no surprise that there have been quite a number of challenges on all ends regarding the many businesses and residents who have applied for financial support from the Government, National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Solange Duncan said in a press statement on Tuesday.
MP Solange Ludmila Duncan submitted questions via the President of Parliament to the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) on Tuesday 23 June 2020 to ascertain the handling of complaints and objections regarding unemployment support.
The MP noted ‘according to the SSRP website, the Ministry of VSA predicted unemployment at approximately 5000 persons within the 3 months following the lockdown. This signifies that there may well have been thousands of requests for unemployment support especially after numerous employee dismissals or reduced working hours.’
MP Duncan has requested the Ministry’s policy as it regards labor disputes and complaints received during the last two months. She mentioned that although the execution of this unemployment support task is being handled by the St. Maarten Development Fund, the Ministry of VSA is responsible for ensuring labor mediation and access to social welfare for residents.
“I have gotten many complaints by residents about abrupt dismissals from companies who may or may not have applied for business payroll support. There are persons who have had their work hours cut and by extension their salaries but are not sure if objections are being investigated. Effective monitoring and control are quite necessary from each Ministry and executing agency involved in the SSRP.
“I am seeking clarity from the Minister on how this is being handled,” added the MP. Duncan concluded, “the SSRP was designed by the Government to assist our people directly with financial support. When companies receive payroll support, we must also ensure that the rights of their employees and what is owed to them are still respected and that salaries are paid as they should be. I believe that any inquiries by residents regarding labor dismissals or issues with insufficient salary must be investigated and addressed in a timely manner. Our people’s livelihoods are at stake.”