Labor Reform Needed

Quotes from previous columns:

  1. If we had more flexible labor laws, employers would be encouraged to hire and create more opportunities for part-timers, and full timers, liberated from fear of getting stuck with a surplus of people, in the off-season, for example.
  2. HORECA, which has been closed since mid-March, received a vital shot in the arm in the form of salary-subsidy, a tool designed to avoid massive bankruptcies during the next months, if the labor laws are NOT modified.
  3. I think we all agree that the salary-subsidy was important, but not without criticism, it cannot be the only financial tool used in our recovery, if we want the Aruba tourism industry to survive in 2021, we must flex our labor laws.
  4. In our current vulnerable state where we don’t know whether the crisis/recession will last 3 to 4 months or one/two years, our Inflexible labor laws, based on the assumption that employees always need protection, are inadequate, because this time the EMPLOYER needs protection.

Now more than ever, Aruba must reform its labor laws to save businesses from going under. The Age of Protectionism must end because we went thru 6 months of salary-subsidy, now what?

The salary-subsidy kept many people employed, artificially. 

At the beginning of the crisis opinions were divided, swallow the bitter pill now, or swallow it later. We opted for the later. But the bitter pill must be swallowed. And the time is now.

Businesses must be able to trim their payrolls, because the fate of the salary-subsidy is unclear with GOA sitting on the fence.

I sacrificed myself in the name of journalism and watched the entire hour-long press conference with the Minister of Labor & Social Affair, earlier this week.

He is a showman. He can talk – sorry, mi ta papia hopi. Yes, you do.

He mentioned the word FASE dozens of times during the conference, in love with his own concept, having just spent Awg 24,051,302.00

He told us that unfortunately after September 30th, no hay placa mas, after tapping himself on the shoulder for being the first to jump to the rescue with FASE, even before the Dutch.

FASE must be replaced he said, by structural assistance, something new, Plan B, fresh social management, to fill the gap, tapa e bashi social. We don’t know what will replace FASE, but it is coming. When? After September. And it will be RETROACTIVE, if a few months lapsed without. We are an island of solidarity, he stated, and he intends to maintain our social network, to save us from extinction.

And apparently there is no way to transition those out of work and eligible for FASE into the ranks of the unemployed for unemployment benefits, automatically.

They will have to sign up again.

CURIOUSLY: The minister talked very little about LABOR, about the WORK aspect of the remuneration, he talked slowly and clearly in great detail about the remuneration itself, as if work and pay are two different estranged concepts, that have little in common.

He talked about handing out cash, and mentioned work in regards to fraud, reiterating we cannot double dip, collect FASE AND be gainfully employed.  In this case he said, embrace the discipline and stability of work, which is better than the handout.

So a full hour press conference, and not one word about labor REFORM.

He got a bit dramatic, or rather melodramatic towards the end, talking about the Magic of Aruba and how visitors are affected by our spell, and added a touch of self-effacement declaring himself humildamente orguyoso about his island.

He fantasied about the refinery diversifying our economy, throwing the word PILLAR around a number of time, stroked the MinPres for her leadership, and concluded proudly with the idea that the FASE data base is available, and could surely be used for other projects!

Minister: You gotta wake up. Labor reform is what the business community is expecting! They have been begging for years.         


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August 07, 2020
Rona Coster