Elshot: Social protection politicians can also apply to workers

POSTED: 02/27/13 1:55 PM

St. Maarten – “What is good for the goose is good for the gander,” president of the Windward Islands Teachers Union Claire Elshot said yesterday, as she echoed the calls made on Monday by social organizations jointly for attention to place on the adoption of a social protection floor that is equivalent to the Netherlands. Elshot identified the socio-economic protection that politicians enjoy when they prematurely demit office.

“We know that it is possible to get equality on certain issues because if we look at our Parliamentarians and our Ministers and their salaries tell me if that is not equality. If a minister does not fulfill their four year term, the fact that they would be able to continue collecting a salary for a number of months, and it is already been applied for a number of former ministers,  tell me if that is no equality,” Elshot said during the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Union weekly press briefing.

The social organizations say they will not let up until the country representative’s champion their cause. The grouping, under the St. Maarten Anti-poverty Platform and the St. Maarten United Non-governmental Federation (SUNFED), has already drafted a letter, which is expected to be delivered to Parliament of St. Maarten today requesting a meeting with the Permanent Committee on Parliamentary Affairs before they head to The Hague for the Inter Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (IPKO). The conference gets underway next week.

The grouping also plans to resuscitate its public awareness campaign that was initiated in January 2012 to bring attention to the many human rights violations, it says, is being committed on St. Maarten. As Today reported in its February 25, 2013 edition, the social organizations have premised their demand on the guarantee function of the Kingdom Government stipulated in Article 43 of the Kingdom Charter, as well as several international conventions such as the International Labor Organization, United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the Millennium Development Goals.

Elshot added that the churches are also being contacted for them to give an accurate picture of the burden that is being placed on their resources because of having to feed, clothe and even house many impoverished individuals.

March 8, 22 and 25 will also be used specifically to raise awareness on the island and the surrounding regions on the challenges faced in the labor, education, social protection, and healthcare and youth sectors.

“The fact that funding was cut, several youth and afternoon programs had to stop. This is very disturbing,” Elshot added as she referred to the closure of Amfo which facilitated 6 million guilders annually for social organizations to execute social projects.

Buyout of Simpson Bay Resort

Elshot also indicated that recent information she received suggested the management of the Simpson Bay Resort is close to a purchase agreement with the Hard Rock chain. The union leader said that the immediate concern is that the workers, who have survived two takeovers thus far, will not receive any social protection.

“Again at the Simpson Bay Resort there will be a next takeover from a next hotel brand: Hard Rock. However the workers from the former area have not been able to get a social benefit or a payout out of an unemployment fund because there was never a concrete decision on their status. We are noticing that for the workers, there is no social protection in the form of an unemployment fund. If there is one that can be applied to the ministers then it can be applied to the workers also, whenever they lose their jobs.”

She added that the loss of income could result in many people falling into acute poverty.



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