PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Omar Ottley extended Labour Day wishes to all workers on St. Maarten.
“I only wish that the circumstances were different. As we celebrate Labour Day fully aware of the fact that many workers are out of work or working on reduced hours, we must still acknowledge the importance of Labour Day,” said the minister in a press statement on Saturday.
Labour Day is an important annual event in which workers worldwide, and also on St. Maarten, are recognised for their contributions and hard work this past year. “I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all workers and essential workers for your hard work throughout the past year, under these circumstances,” he added.
The minister extended his gratitude and recognition to frontline workers who selflessly put their own health and lives at risk, to ensure the care and safety of others in the community as the country continues to experience the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. “We are extremely thankful for your commitment to caring for our community,” he added.
“The pandemic has shown us that labour protection is not just a popular political phrase, rather a dire necessity for the workers who contribute to our economy. It is especially for that reason that labour protection is one of my priorities for the labour force of St. Maarten.”
Ottley said the devastation caused by the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and now with the global pandemic, has no doubt resulted in severe negative economic consequences for St. Maarten and thus the labour market. However, crises give way to new opportunities and therefore should encourage governments to be innovative in times of uncertainty. St. Maarten in this regard is no exception.
“In consultation with the social partners, I intend to revisit present labour legislation and policies and provide adequate labour protection where needed. I am passionate and determined to find a solution to the short term contracts that many face. I have already tasked my policy team with the mission of finding a transparent and impartial solution that will protect the workers.
“On behalf of the Government of St. Maarten, I wish all workers on St. Maarten/Saint Martin a Happy Labour Day and warm thoughts to all of you who are working through these challenging times, may God bless you all,” said Ottley.