Elshot not open to salary discussion

POSTED: 06/15/12 12:41 PM

St. Maarten – The President of the Windward Island Teachers Union (Witu) Claire Elshot says that once the 2010 Cost of Living Adjustment is paid they will be “looking for the payment for 2011.” She has also taken the position that the union will press for discussion on the entire salary scale structure if the government presses forward with opening a discussion on the structural adjustments to salaries. The government and the Board of financial supervision (Cft) consider the present cost of living adjustment system untenable and expensive. The government wants to discuss a new way forward and Cft Chairman Age Bakker has ventured to agree that the present system should be replaced with something else.

“It took some 30 years to come to the scales that include the cost of living adjustment and I think it should be another 20 or 30 years before we take another look at salary scales. We are not interested to talk unless we put the entire salary scale system up for debate. We need to just follow the law. It (cost of living adjustment) is a fundamental right in the ordinance,” Elshot said.

The union leader also pointed that even with the annual adjustments some of the country’s teachers are still underpaid and that the system allows them to save more money for their pensions.

“We need to weigh everything. This system is how we indexed in the 1990s. You got increases in steps. If that changes we have to change the whole system. Also you have to consider that we pay more in AOV premiums when we get the adjustment and I don’t mind because then those who are currently on pension should be able to get a little more too,” Elshot said.

No formal discussions have opened on the way forward in structurally adjusting salaries. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams intends to start the discussion with the unions representing teachers and civil servants once the payment for 2010 – 17 million guilders – is made. Elshot is hoping the payment will be made in June, but admitted hearing a rumor that it could be paid in July.

Vacation Allowance

Elshot confirmed on Thursday that teachers at public schools had been paid their vacation allowance on Wednesday. Teachers who work for school boards have not yet received their vacation allowance. Elshot plans to urge the school boards to synchronize payment in the future.

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