Labor Market

Council lady Bernabela has difficulty to grasp that large-scale projects make little sense in low unemployment situations

Recent job fairs hardly yield any job hunters. Photo: ABC Online Media

KRALENDIJK Council lady Esther Bernabela (UPB) still does not seem to understand that attracting large hotel projects makes little sense in a situation with very low unemployment on the island.

Commissioner Nina Den Heyer explained during an Island Council meeting on June 1st that Bonaire only has an unemployment rate of little over four percent. “Much lower than on other islands or in the Netherlands”, explained Den Heyer, who also indicated that attracting very large projects on the island would only increase the lack of qualified labor on the island. Den Heyer also indicated that not all existing unemployed people can be placed in existing vacancies just like that. “It is much more of a challenge for workers to earn a wage with which they earn enough”.

Experience shows that the activities of the employment agency Plenchi di Trabou always show very few job seekers to be placed in existing vacancies. “It makes no sense to create jobs, after which we have to import employees from abroad again,” says Den Heyer


For a moment it seemed to dawn on Bernabela that creating more jobs make little sense in situations where there is low unemployment. This moment came when Den Heyer explained why – at least from an employment perspective – she was not enthusiastic about a major project like the new Sunset Beach Resort. “If I hear Commissioner Den Heyer’s explanation, then attracting large-scale projects does indeed not make sense,” said Bernabela, who with her comment unintentionally stepped into her own sword. “That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make,” Den Heyer replied to the UPB councilor’s conclusion.

In an interview on Dutch Caribbean TV on 9 June however, the Council lady -who strongly supports the project together with Commissioner James Kroon- made a new attempt in explaining her unrelenting support. “When I see this person on the cruise market selling things once every few days I wonder: Is that really work? Isn’t this person really unemployed?”

Bernabela ignores the fact that when it comes to unemployment, figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) are used and international definitions of what is meant by unemployment are used.


Although there is low unemployment on Bonaire when it comes to numbers, there is a so-called qualitative structural unemployment. This refers to unemployment where the job seekers do not have the right qualifications to get a job. Just the creatin of more jobs, will not solve this challenge on the local labor market.

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