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MP Wescot-Williams: “Short-term Labor Contract Law Hits Another Snag”

MP Sarah Wescot Williams MP Sarah Wescot Williams

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams has expressed her disappointment that the publication of the new Civil Code Book as far as this regards employment contracts (short term contracts), the book does not include any of the amendments made by Parliament in 2019, the MP said in a media statement on Wednesday evening.

“Now I can understand why the Minister of VSA was so evasive when he was  recently asked about short term labor contracts, locally referred to as “6-months contracts”, the MP stated. “I wonder if the Minister is even aware of the current status.”

“But how did we get here in the first place?”  The Civil Code of Sint Maarten was adopted from the Netherlands Antillean Civil Code and at the time of the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, several changes to the Civil Code were in process, such as e.g. Book 2 of the Civil Code that was revised and approved by the Sint Maarten Parliament in 2013.

“In 2015, Parliament received the revised book on labor contracts. A complete new book was hereby created for labor in the Civil Code. The Government at the time subjected the labor proposals to tripartite discussions, before the handling in Parliament of the new Title 10 in Book 7 of the Civil Code.” the MP explained.

“During the handling in Parliament, amendments were presented to include restrictions on short term contracts (no more than two contracts and or a period of two years); extension of maternity leave to 16 weeks and creation of paternity leave of 7 days. These amendments were presented by former MP Tamara Leonard and myself.

“These changes would have gone into effect by National Decree, in other words the Government would decide on the date that these changes to the labor law would go into effect.

“Disappointingly, the publication of the labor book of the Civil Code by the Government does not include any of the amendments submitted by former MP Leonard and myself and approved by Parliament in 2019”, MP Wescot-Williams elaborated.

“To clarify further, “then there is this constant fuss in Parliament about an initiative law amendment of 2011 by the NA faction to address short-term labor contracts that - in the view of some MPs - is being frustrated.

“However, the changes in the Civil Code as mentioned before, are of a complete different nature than what was presented in 2011 by the NA faction. Conversely, this 2011 amendment is still at Parliament and could be picked up by the initiators who are still Members of Parliament if so desired.”

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