Civil servants union to PM: Government should set example

POSTED: 06/5/13 11:38 AM

St. Maarten – The Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union are taking the caretaker government to task over the payout of the 2011 cost of living adjustment (Cola).  Union president Derie Leonard is addressing her concerns directly to   Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams. In an open letter released to the media yesterday, Leonard said that she used that medium because it appears to be an effective way of communication between the government, unions and civil servants. Civil servants and teachers have been clamoring for the Cola, even given the government an ultimatum last month, by which time the monies should have been paid out.

“My humble advice to the Prime Minister, please pay the monies owed to them. The Wicsu/PSU is open for dialogue for anything after, but payment of 2011 and 2012 cola kindly index them in salaries.”

In her budget presentation, the Prime Minister indicated that since the cola had now become untenable, government was only prepared to pay 50 percent of the total owed to workers.  The amount was allocated in the budget but while financial instrument has been passed by parliament, it still needs to be made law. The island’s political impasse is further compounding issues.

“A few months ago I questioned if we are living in a ‘lawless country’, while it has been proven on many occasions and now also adding the Mexican standoffs. First projects where millions has been spent on, promised to give Tempo another $600, 000. This makes one laugh, deals being made only to be revealed because of political divorces. Thank God we still have a praying community,” Leonard added.

The union leader said that she was perturbed that the people’s representatives, parliamentarians, allowed the budget to be passed in its current form without the full cola payment.

“Our Prime Minister, responsible for general affairs, minister of finance and loyal parliamentarian sees it fitting to make a glorious decision to vote for the budget to allow the Prime Minister to justify that there is no money to pay the cola in the right manner and working to pay a lump sum amounting to 50 percent.

Again here we go depriving the civil servants of their rights and even further being totally disrespectful. My question is: is it because most of the Ministers and Parliamentarians are not civil servants and it will not affect their pension? Of course not with a healthy salary,” she said

Leonard said that she has been following the recent political developments, noting that the word “integrity” has become a cliché. She is therefore addressing her concerns to the Prime Minister. government is the one that should set an example for the private sector to follow, she added.

“Integrity  has been used on numerous occasions and it amazes me that it is conveniently used in September 2012 a meeting was held with the unions and your person, where you (Prime Minister) indicated that a proposal will be sent to the unions, and to my surprise there was a decision published in the newspaper.

A meeting was held again in May 2013 and the Prime Minister indicated that paying of the cola is not a law, well after more than 40 years? Ambulance personnel, police officers, firemen, immigration officers, tax office workers and other civil servants offering services do they deserve this?”

Wicsu/PSU and other workers organizations have hinted at possible industrial actions if their demands are not met in a timely manner.


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