Published On: Fri, Aug 24th, 2018

Casino staff asks: “Where’s the Protection?”

Dear Editor,

Foreign Investment is of paramount importance for the future of St. Maarten. Not only does it involve money, jobs and development but for local communities it means stability, growth and an overall better standard of living and working conditions…… or so we are led to believe!

Ultimately, every new Investor is free to create their own environment. They flash their money, are simply accepted and conveniently ignored by all Government departments to do exactly whatever they choose, with no moral obligations whatsoever. Labour laws, relationships with Unions and employment standards should be observed and adhered to but who enforces this? Where is the Government? Who is investigating? Where’s the protection?

Casino Rouge et Noir St. Maarten

Over 35 years ago ‘Rouge et Noir Casino’ became one of the most popular venues on the Island. Throughout the years it built up a fantastic reputation and was known and loved by locals and tourists alike. However, time and competition took its toll, and the casino became dated and neglected. In March, 2017, the original owners (Funtime N.V.) sold the casino and although the new Chinese owners had no experience in the casino industry, the new injection of foreign money was very much welcomed and needed.

By August, 2018, only 17 months later there will be numerous court cases lined up against Funtime N.V. Valuable experienced staff have been demoted, mistreated and even unfairly targeted. Biased untruths and embittered accusations have led to fabricated warnings, cautions and even illegal dismissals.

Management and staff with 20-35 years of service are either ignored, unpaid or go unheard and unnoticed; Discrimination is now abundant especially concerning ageism as age limits (18-38) are now advertised on the casinos search for replacements; pensioners are being denied their legal rights to a pay-out and forced into continuing their labour agreements; allegedly, 10-20 illegal Asian workers have continually worked within the casino or office walls, before departing St Marten with an ‘overstay’ stamp in their passports and thousands of dollars in their accounts. We ask the questions….Where is the Government? Who is investigating? Where’s the protection?

Staff morale and motivation is now at an all-time low and communication between owners and staff is simply non-existent. The staff feel they are being purposefully pushed out by the deteriorating working conditions which are enforced by the new fake Managing Directors: an 8 hour shift comprises of only 2 drinks being allowed and ‘must’ be signed for; continual walking around on aging and aching legs, without breaks, are setting record levels of absenteeism through sicknesses and stress; vacations have been reduced from 26 days to 15; and daily working hours are up from 7 to 8, 6 days a week. The continuation of an unhealthy atmosphere is cemented by ‘The Boss’, who, alongside his straggle of followers, perches himself, outside the casino where he can analyze, criticize and condemn anyone who dares to disobey his orders…..in short, the loyal and local staff feel intimidated as their pride and their self-esteem disappear.

So where is the employees help? Who do they turn to? Staff are getting demoted, move into new positions, fake warnings and even fired. The bullying tactics borders on abuse with intimidating conditions employed by the new owners and their ‘helpers’. The labour department when informed simply ask the staff to seek legal advice. Immigration is nowhere, FIU is nowhere, alongside all other Government agencies which are currently showing zero interest and turning blind eyes.

Therefore, with the new owners showing complete disrespect for St Maarten and her laws, ‘lives and families’ are being ruined and maybe ‘Rouge et Noir Casino’ is simply a bad example of foreign investment but the questions remain…….. Where is the Government? Who is investigating? Where’s the protection?

Name withheld at author’s request


Photo caption: Casino ‘Rouge et Noir’. Online stock photo by St-Maarten.com.