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Hefty fines imposed on St. Maarten Cable TV by BTP

Philipsburg - Bureau Telecommunications and Post St. Maarten (BTP) imposed administrative fines on Caribbean Teleview Services d.b.a. St. Maarten Cable TV for substantial license violations. For over 10 months the Quality of Service standards of...

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Dear Reader

St. Maarten Cable TV is once again negatively in the news.

But this is actually a 'serious' situation.

Isn't there some kind of code of conduct as to how government-owned entities should treat each other?

Where is the solidarity?
Where is the corporate brotherly love among directors of government-owned institutions?

On Wednesday, January 3rd this year, we reported on the news that Cable TV workers found themselves locked out of their office building in Madame Estate despite a court ruling in their favor. "The situation showed the limitations all workers in a post-Irma environment can and will be facing". we commented at the time in our email newsletter. "Everlasting employment is a thing of the past", was our opinion.

"Other than starting their own business to provide the cable tv services that TelEm may be willing to make use of, a workers cooperative may be the only solution for the workers to unite themselves under and provide their expertise to the market they have been working all these years in, we advised at the time." we wrote.

"According to Wikipedia, Cooperatives may be classified as either worker, consumer, producer, purchasing or housing cooperatives. With a business losing customers to the internet, Roku boxes and even its copper cables to thieves, the long term employability of the workers at St. Maarten Cable TV is out of the question."

"Ignoring the effects of hurricane Irma whereby cable connections went from 6000 to 2000, Cable TV SXM was already heading the way of the dinosaurs. Only its cable network and infrastructure is of value to TelEm as it seeks to expand its fiber-optic network. The writing was on the wall for all to see and the workers were well advised to adapt to the market developments way ahead of time.

For those still holding on for TelEm to do the right thing, it is just a matter of time before even they have to concede that when they do get the maximum settlement possible, they will still have to move on and find new employment elsewhere or take up a whole new occupation all together."

"Therefore, an idea we would like to advise many workers on St. Maarten to consider in a post-Irma era, is the concept of a 'workers cooperative'. Other than taking your own destiny into your own hands, you will always be at the mercy of the market. At least in your own business, you will have the final say about its future."

That was our intro on January 3rd, 2018. See

Our advice still stands.

As a matter of fact, the legal minds among our readers heeded our call and submitted an article for publication titled " The Cooperative Association Explained".

Surprisingly, in June 2018, St. Maarten Cable TV management representative took the Cable TV workers to court in a request to have their employment terminated. The court ruled to let the 17 Cable TV employees be terminated. The judge in the case ruled that the employment agreements of the individual employees are to be dissolved as per July 15th, 2018.

Also, the judge awarded compensations to the employees. But this ruling is based entirely on the proposals made by Cable TV. This was a serious disappointment for the Cable TV workers and their union, SMCU.

Shortly thereafter, the union was to schedule a meeting the following week to discuss the contents of the court's verdict and decide on the way forward.

In the view of the union's attorneys, several valid arguments by the employees that had been brought forward in the defense and oral pleading by the lawyers on behalf of the employees had been conspicuously ignored and overlooked by the judge, according to the union's legal advisers. Though as a general rule the possibilities for an appeal in dissolution cases are limited, the employees may opt to appeal the decisions on good grounds because these decisions are in breach of the prior decision by the Court of Appeal and because of other legal errors made in the decisions, SMCU's lawyers advised.

SMCU union leader, Ludson Evers advised that the SXM Cable TV workers are indeed appealing the court's decision.

Now the Bureau Telecommunication & Post (BTP) has aimed its guns at the St. Maarten Cable TV as well.

This company can't seem to catch a break.
Why is everyone hell-bent on destroying this company? is of the opinion that a crucial component of our media mix cannot be destroyed on our island. Radio, television and newspaper are crucial to the country 'fourth estate' and their role in being a tool of information dissemination for the citizens of our island is a vital one.

All parties involved should realize this and cease all legal battles and non-helpful compliance directives and come together and seriously sit, consider the implications and work out solutions that are beneficial for all.

It is not just about business or legal issues of compliance, it is about our national need for television to remain a vital part of the island's commuinication mix. We need television, just as much as we need radio, newspapers, telecommunications, internet and social media (Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat and Instagram). Communication has become a basic human need.

Even a loss-leader like a television company in this day and age on St. Maarten can be made profitable. A workers co-op may the way to go. As a community business it is imperative that this company be saved, one way or the other. By saving our businesses, we are saving ourselves.

If we can't save ourselves, who do we expect to come and save us?


Here is a recap of the SXM Cable TV saga:

TelEm buys Cable TV

Cable TV debate focuses on TelEm

SXM Cable TV: A Cinderella Story or The Case of The Mass Miscommunications?

Cable TV employees battle dismissal


Best regards,

Terrance Rey
The Publisher

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