Published On: Fri, Apr 13th, 2018

Labor dispute advice: mediation, dialogue, compromise

Minister Emil LeePHILIPSBURG – Between November and February, 114 people applied for legal aid to the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor. Among them were the nine employees of the airport who were dismissed for alleged theft, but the court annulled all dismissals. Minister Emil Lee congratulated the airport employees on Wednesday with their victory in court. He also used the opportunity to explain his role and that of his ministry in labor disputes.

“These are challenging times; and it’s hard. People come to my office regularly, feeling that their rights have been trampled on and that their employer is not treating them well. They ask me: minister, can’t you come in and intervene? As much as I would love to, it is not the role of the minister to get involved in individual disputes.”

It is the role of the ministry to create a harmonious working environment and to support both employers and employees, the minister pointed out. “Whenever we are asked to intervene our path is always the same. Our recommendation is always: mediation, dialogue, compromise. These are difficult times for everybody and our recommendation has always been that people should find a way to cooperate, talk with each other and find a solution together. That has always been the most amicable way and probably also the most economically beneficial way.”

For disputes that cannot be resolved this way there is always the legal avenue, the minister said. The dismissed airport employees received legal aid from the government.

“The government provides the financial resources for employees to contract a lawyer and have them defend their legal rights,” Minister Lee said. “Although it took a bit of time in this case, this is exactly what happened.”

The ministry always tries to help moderate labor-relationships, Lee added. “But if that does not work there is always the freedom to go to court, The government facilitated in this case by giving the weaker side of this dispute the legal and financial resources to defend its rights; and those rights were upheld in a court of law. This is a good example of the correct process and the role of the minister and the ministry.”