St. Maarten PM addresses Cola and union issues

POSTED: 04/25/13 11:50 AM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams is expected to dispatch a letter to the Organized Consultative Body (GOA) on the cost of living adjustment (Cola) and the cost of living in general before she leaves the island for the Royal Inauguration activities next week. Despite threats from the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (Wiclu) with an April 30 ultimatum to payout the 2011 Cola, the Prime Minister said that now that the 2013 budget has been approved, government plans to pay out 50 percent of what workers would have expected. She said that despite statements being made in the press by individual union leaders, discussions between government and workers representatives on the Cola are only to be done within the framework of the GOA.

“While the unions have their responsibility, the official entity for government’s consultation in which the unions are represented, is the GOA. It is on that formal level that we have been communicating regarding the Cola.”

The cost of living index for 2011 was 4.6 percent which should have been added to the salaries of government workers. The government says it can only afford to pay 2.3 percent to civil servants and teachers.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the Cola is untenable,

“We really want to structure the matter of indexation.”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister confirmed that she had received a joint letter from the police unions. She said that she is concerned about the situation and plans to table the letter in a Council of Ministers meeting. Wescot-Williams could not give a date for which the unions concerns will be addressed. She added that she had received previous correspondences from the unions and brought them to the attention of the Minister of Justice.

The unions had asked for a meeting on Tuesday with the Prime Minister and President of Parliament but said that they had already gotten permission from their membership to pursue industrial action.


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