Published On: Thu, Jul 16th, 2020

A rightful place at the table

Hilbert HaarBy Hilbert Haar

Four employer organizations have launched what feels like a pre-emptive strike against the imminent reform of the Social Economic Council by joining forces and establishing the Employer Council of St. Maarten.

This way, the Marine Trades Association (SMMTA), the Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the Indian Merchants Association (IMA) and the Timeshare Association (SMTA) pretty much take the wind out of a mandate that was given to the Chamber of Commerce for the establishment of an umbrella organization for employer-organizations. With this new council a reality, the Chamber can save itself the trouble.

Interestingly, the four associations represent sectors of our economy that have been grossly ignored and at times even ridiculed by some members of Parliament. Whatever analysis these associations have presented for perusal in the past, they have mostly been dismissed as the product of people representing companies that only came to the island to make a fat profit.

All About Fat CatsOh, wait – Gasp! Spoiler alert! – companies are supposed to make a profit, fat or otherwise. Because if they don’t make a profit they are going out of business and the people they employed become a burden to the state.

It would, therefore, make sense to listen to the representatives of these companies if they have something to say about issues like the labor market or the cost of doing business. But it is hard being heard if you are talking to deaf people – like some (but not all) of our politicians.

Employers live in the real world where a paycheck is not obvious: these people have to make their companies work to earn the money they need to pay their employees and themselves, to invest in improvements and – yep – to bank what is left of their profits.

If the economy goes south, sensible employers take austerity measures to keep their ship afloat – exactly what St. Maarten needs to do if it does not want to sink the country into decades of social-economic misery.

Corporate Fat CatCome hell or high water, politicians will always get their paycheck at the end of the month. If things go south they usually say to their constituents: we are short so you have to pay. No way employers can pull that stunt on their employees.

It is therefore in the interest of our citizens (not necessarily the same as the interest of our politicians) to take this Employer Council seriously and to give it its rightful place at the table when it comes to discussing tough subjects like labor market reform and dismissal legislation.


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