PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Health and Labor Omar Ottley said that the Ministry of VSA through SZV and its inspectors are continuing their investigation of the death of the Back Street store employee who passed away in Colombia on May 15.
Ottley said that based on the information he was given after inspectors visited the store, they determine that the employee was insured with SZV some years ago. He said the employee was in possession of private insurance at the time she died. “When the incident occurred, we dispatched the CID of SZV to begin an investigation. SZV will now look into the reason the employee was not insured with SZV. One of the things they will look into is her salary to see if she was paid over the SZV limit.”
The Minister then issued a plea to all workers whether documented or not to file complaints if they are being abused by employers. Ottley said one of the trends they see is that many people are afraid to come forward because they are afraid of the repercussions such as being fired. He said the situation is indeed sad because oftentimes the department of labor often finds out about these cases of abuse when it is already too late. “There are occasions where people would see me as the Minister of Labor and complain to me, but I still have to ack within the realms of the law by advising them to file a complaint with the labor department before action can be taken.”
Ottley said when he provides such advice the employee would then indicate that would not take that route because they do not want to lose their jobs.” He assured the employees that while sitting as the Minister of Health and Labor he will fight for them, but they need to come forward. He said if an employee is fired because they came forward it will be handled. He said there are a number of cases of abuse within the workforce, such as tax deductions that are not paid. He urged the working class to also file their taxes so that these delinquent employers can be tracked.
Background on deceased employee.
The employee that passed away worked for 15 years at the back street store, while the Minister said she was insured at some point. The deceased was not insured since 2017 and only a month ago she purchased the NAGICO Gold Health Insurance as she was critically ill while working on appealing the decision of the Minister of Justice to deny her a residency permit.