Minister Ottley: SMMC Staff resume works as discussions are still ongoing

November 13, 2023  –PHILIPSBURG–  The St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has resumed its operations today after a temporary disruption caused by employee unrest. The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Omar Ottley, has successfully intervened and initiated discussions between relevant stakeholders to address the concerns raised by the employees.

On Monday, November 13th, Minister Ottley held a virtual meetings with Ms. Offringa the Board Chairperson of SMMC, Dr. Holiday the Director of SMMC, Ms. Loblack the VSA Mediator, and Ms. Illidge the Union Representative. During the meeting, all parties expressed their concerns and willingness to find an amicable solution.

Dr. Holiday conveyed that an emergency meeting had been held with SMMC management and employee representatives, and it was determined that the unrest was a result of miscommunication. As a result, the employees have returned to work while negotiations continue to resolve any outstanding issues.

Ms. Offringa assured Minister Ottley that the SMMC board will convene in the coming weeks to finalize the process for the staff. This will ensure that all concerns are addressed comprehensively and that appropriate measures are implemented to prevent similar disruptions in the future.

“As the Union Rep, I want to emphasize that our intention is to never harm the continuity of medical care. Today’s actions were a way for the staff to express their deep unhappiness. I would like to extend my appreciation to Minister Ottley and everyone involved for their prompt actions. Moving forward, we hope to reach a reasonable and fair solution that prioritizes the best interests of the employees.” Stated Ms. Illidge.

Minister Ottley expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders for their cooperation and commitment to finding a resolution. He emphasized the importance of open communication and collaboration in maintaining a productive work environment at SMMC.

The Minister further stated, “Ensuring the smooth operation of SMMC is paramount, as it serves a critical role in providing healthcare services to the people of St. Maarten. We will continue to work closely with all parties involved to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.”

The ongoing negotiations between SMMC management, employee representatives, and relevant stakeholders demonstrate a shared commitment to resolving any outstanding issues promptly. The Ministry of VSA remains dedicated to supporting a harmonious working environment at SMMC, where the focus can remain on providing quality healthcare services to the community.

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