Teachers to receive 3.3 percent in July

POSTED: 01/31/11 12:02 PM

St. Maarten – Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto has given a firm commitment to pay teachers and civil servants the 3.3 percent in cost of living adjustment on July 1, 2011. They payment, which will be made as part of the July salary, will not be retroactive to January 1, 2011 and it will not include interest.
“The upcoming five months prior to payout would allow the Government the time to be able to allocate the funds since funds for the 3.3 per cent are not allocated on the 2010 nor 2011 budgets,” the Finance Minister wrote in a statement issued by the Department of Communications.
The announcement on the proposal, which covers teachers at public schools, schools subsidized by government and all civil servants including Coast Guard, police and prison guards, comes after the teachers and civil servants held three meetings in working hours last week and announced they were planning a fourth one on Monday. There has also been a meeting with the Finance Minister and with four members of the Council of Ministers.
President of the Windward Islands Teachers Union Claire Elshot and the President of the Windward Islands Civil Servant Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) William Reed confirmed receipt of the proposal Sunday night and said it will be shared with teachers and civil servants when they meet today at 7:30 a.m. at the L.B Scot Sports Auditorium. Some would have received it by e-mail as Elshot had instructed it be sent to her members.
“The fact that the proposal will be presented makes the meeting very important so I am calling on all teachers and civil servants to be present to discuss the proposal and its ratification,” Elshot said.
Reed said he hoped that the matter could now be resolved seeing as there is a guaranteed commitment to pay the 3.3 percent this year. However he thinks the fact that it won’t be retroactive to January 1 will be a sticking point during today’s discussion.
“There are so many avenues that the workers are complaining where sacrifices can be made, but we have to talk in a very mature manner and see how we can come out of it,” Reed said.
Important meeting
In an appearance on Radio Soualiga 99.9 Choice F.M’s For the Record with Eddie Williams Elshot called teachers, parents and students to join them at the meeting, saying that the entire affair was about defending the rights of workers. She also disagreed with a statement by the Education Minister on Saturday that teachers who did not show up for work would not be paid and that school would be held as normal on Monday.
“The teachers are unhappy with that statement of no work, no pay. We are having legally constituted union meetings and there can be no normal school if we have not received a livable proposal,” Elshot said.
The president of the teachers union also rejected the proposal made Friday that the money would be paid depending on the amount of revenue collected from the two percent increase in the turnover tax (TOT). The rejection is principally because it was not concrete enough and also because the teachers feel it was like being paid out of money they had already spent.
“We will work with the Minister when he comes with proposals that suit our members,” Elshot said as she also called on the government to instruct the Acting Secretary Generals not to attempt to intimidate civil servants who plan to attend the meeting by telling them they’d be summarily dismissed if they attend.
Elshot said the unions also still want a discussion with MPs about their role in the matter of splitting their cost of living adjustment. Parliament approved the measure as part of the measures to balance the budget.
“It behooves them to call this emergency meeting with their workers – the civil servants, so yes that request for a meeting with Parliament will be put forward,” the WITU president said.

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