Cost of living adjustment teachers union’s priority

POSTED: 02/6/13 12:24 PM

St. Maarten – On Thursday, the new 9-member board of the Windward Islands Teachers Union Witu will host its first board meeting to divide tasks among the executive officers.

Witu held its election last week and returning president Claire Elshot said that the union is ready to start with its plans and work program for the period 2013 to 2016.

Elshot said that as a continuing president and veteran trade unionists she knows what she is up against, and that the new board has a lot of work ahead of it.

In August, Witu will attend the 37th Biennial Congress of the Caribbean Union of Teachers in Guyana. Elshot said that before the union gets there, it wants to install a status of women committee.

The committee will be responsible for championing women rights and will have to report on its progress at the regional event.

The rights of teachers will also be documented and published because many teachers still have questions, Elshot said.

The cost of living adjustment (Cola) is still high on the priority of the union members. Elshot said that immediately after the elections, the union executive was approached about questions about the salary adjustment.

Discussions with the Prime Minister who also holds responsible for General Affairs had already indicated that the Cola would not be sustainable for the St. Maarten.

However the government was expected to draft a different proposal for the annual payouts. This should have been presented to Organized Consultative Body (GOA) last October and teachers are now becoming impatient, Elshot said.

“It didn’t happen. So the social dialogues and information to give to our members is still outstanding. We are still waiting for something.”

Members are still looking forward to their 2011 and 2012 Cola, the union president added.

She cited cases in Aruba and Trinidad where teachers unions negotiated for their payments and Witu intends to do the same.

“You need to be clear with workers about their packages. I do hope we will be able to continue the social dialogue.”  Elshot suggested that the government place the Cola as an item on the budget and make the payouts until it decides what to do.

The financial, physical and emotional wellbeing of teachers will be championed in totality, Elshot said.

Three new young members are now on the Witu board. Elshot said that they will be exposed to the leadership training courses that are offered by Education International and the Caribbean Union of Teachers to foster continuity in the organization.


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