Rui Bagini, a 58 year old Portuguese national and resident of French St. Martin, who has been on a hunger strike this past week, has claimed that employers on French St. Martin and other territories are abusing labor and human rights in their territories. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article and interview with Bagini below:
Bagini said he had fought a number of court cases all of which he won but to date his employers are not living up to the court’s decision and his lack of finances is preventing him from going after them. The frustrated father of two said that even the legal aid services on the French side is of no use to workers and victims who are not able to dish out huge sums of monies to pay them. “The aid jursidictionelle [sic] does not pay for hotel and airline tickets when cases such as these are tried in Basse Terre.” Furthermore the case takes forever to go to court.
As for government he said they are negligent, which the main reason employers are abusing their workers. “This is one reason our crime rate is so high, there is no place in society for the youths and when they find a job they are being abused. Employers are stealing tips and service charges from their waiters and these workers cannot say anything fearing that they would be fired. Bagini said he wrote letters to the Inspector du travailler [sic] on several occasions asking them to come and visit the workplace where workers are working seven days a week and is not paid overtime and to date the French labor department has not shown any interest. He said there are employers who are not giving their workers pay-slips and to date nothing is done. [. . .] Bagini said he has decided to challenge his bosses because on several occasions he witnessed the theft and abuse and being a holder of a European passport allows him to contest the abuse.
Bagini has worked in British and French Guiana prior to moving here some 12 years ago. He won two court cases in French Guiana and to date is not paid according to the court’s ruling. He also worked several places on French St. Martin and won many court cases. Bagini said he also worked on the Dutch side and the experience was the same and government on that side of the island is also negligent.