Published On: Mon, Oct 17th, 2022

Dispute about union-referendum at TelEm

PHILIPSBURG — Government mediator Marcellina Loblack has called a referendum at telecom provider TelEm for Wednesday, October 19. Employees have the choice to be, or not to be, represented by the Windward Island Civil Servants Union (WICSU/PSU). Ludson Evers, president of the St. Maarten Communication Union (SMCU) has called this referendum illegal in a letter addressed to Loblack dated October 13.

Loblack’s convocation to take part in the referendum is dated October 11. The referendum is to take place at the TelEm building from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Employees who want to participate have to bring the convocation as well as valid identification – passport, driver’s license or government identification card.

But the SMCU is not at all happy with a referendum that gives employees the choice to vote for a competing union.

On June 9, the SMCU objected to a referendum Loblack announced on May 30, with the argument that the company mentioned in the referendum “does not have any employees.”

SMCU-President Evers mentions in his letter correspondence and email exchanges covering the period from August 22 up to September 26.

The main topic of this exchange, from the side of the SMCU, is about the categories of staff at the St. Maarten (Telecommunications, ed.) Operating Company (SMTOC). The SMCU is of the opinion that these categories have been established in the collective labor agreement and that management is not a category.

On September 14, the SMCU asked Telem’s managing director Kendall Dupersoy for a meeting with the government mediator to discuss the interpretation of these categories.

The letter mentions a meeting with Loblack where an attempt was made to explain the role of the government mediator. After that meeting, the union expressed the opinion that Loblack had forfeited her role as government mediator, “seeing that the matter is ongoing since June 9, 2022.”

The union asks Loblack to postpone the referendum until the issues it has brought forth are resolved, “in order for the referendum to be legal.”

If Loblack does not comply, the SMCU threatens to complain to labor minister Ottley and the Ombudsman and to take legal action against the government mediator.