First TelEm NV: 50 plus workers going home, next WINAIR

Dear Editor,

I normally do not comment on issues unless they reach a level of foolishness. On Wednesday, March 20, 2024 we all read the headlines in “The Daily Herald” of the day “Govt. looking to sell WINAIR shares, 13M in budget as revenue from sale”. Governments are always ready to sell or give away the assets of the country. The 13 million the Minister of Finance is excited to mention that the sale will generate will be a one-time item on the budget. The questions are then what are you going to sell next year and the year after that for revenue for our budget? If this deal is so good for the country as he is saying why were the people not informed before the election that WINAIR is going be to sold??

If the Minister of Finance believe this sale is good for the country St. Maarten, why did he not mention this to the workers of WINAIR during the election of January 11, 2024. He could have campaigned on this proposal and even put it in their election program (manifesto) of issues to be accomplished for the people of St. Maarten Two months and weeks after the election this is mentioned to the people.

Then there is TelEm NV, our local telephone company. We were informed after the election that 52 or 63 workers will lose their jobs. Why were the people not informed before the election that TelEm NV will be restructuring again?

In the article the Minister stated that, and I quote, “The proposed purchase of the majority shares in WINAIR aligns with the government’s strategic goals.” I believe that the Government strategic goals were never communicated to the public of St. Maarten. And if they were communicated to the public, could you please repeat them. You also mention that you started looking at the valuations of all government-owned companies. At the end of the valuation of the companies, what were the results?

The workers of the WINAIR should be the first to be informed of Government’s intention to sell the airline. Their jobs are at stake and the unions of the workers should also be involved in this process. Unions are the voice and the representatives of the workers in the company.

Experiences have taught us, the workers, that we are always the ones holding the empty bag. Take a look at our local telephone company TelEm NV again, and ask yourself, why so many workers have to lose their jobs? When there is no strategic business plan or a company restructuring plan that is made public for the people to follow, then something is up. These decisions that have such great impact on workers of this country need to be carefully studied.

In my next article I will share with the public the consequences of these negatives decisions on the workers and the country. As a member of the St. Maarten Communication union (SMCU) I am very saddened to see this happen and no one is mentioning or doing anything about.

Antonio Brown

Member of the SMCU union

Member of the WICU

The Daily Herald

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