Elshot wants salary scale committee: Union-board backs decision on cost of living adjustment

POSTED: 10/16/13 12:59 PM

St. Maarten – Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions Vice President Claire Elshot acknowledged yesterday that not all unions agree with the decision by the Windward Islands Teachers Union Witu – of which Elshot is the president – to accept that the government will pay out just 50 percent of the cost of living adjustment.

“All unions were represented in all the meetings about this issue, also in the meeting with the Council of Ministers. I cannot speak for other unions, I speak for the Witu, and within Witu not all might agree either. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. There might be unions that disagree; and that is their right.”

Elshot said that the Witu-board met last week Friday to discuss the developments about the cost of living adjustment. The purpose of this meeting was to update board members and also to seek support for the decision to accept 50 percent of the adjustment this year. “It was overwhelming to see that the board backed me one hundred percent,” Elshot said. “They understand; with the information we shared they feel confident that they would be able to explain it to any member that would approach them about it.”

Elshot said that the membership is “cool” with the lump sum payment that is scheduled to be made on November 15. The union-leader emphasized that she would continue the fight to have the remaining 50 percent allocated in the 2014 budget. “As unions we will be policing this and we will remind our representatives that this should be included in the budget.”

Elshot said that there are also issues with the salary scales for teachers and the way they are implemented by school boards. “Per August 1 teachers should have seen an automatic increase of one step in their scales but we are getting feedback that some teachers got it while others did not. Some were told that they were frozen.”

Elshot said that up to a point the cost of living adjustment should be indexed in the salary scales. “From 2012 on we would look at other ways and means, at alternatives and a more sustainable system.”

Elshot furthermore suggested the establishment of a standard salary scale committee. “In such a committee we will be able to discuss bottlenecks and iron out differences. Then it will be clear to all members how the salary structure is applied and they would know their rights.”

All stakeholders should be involved in this committee, Elshot stressed. “Last time only certain school boards were represented and they were asked to pass information on to other school boards. That did not happen, they left their colleagues hanging. If we have eight school boards the eight school boards should be represented in that committee with the union and the government.”

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