Union calls for social dialogue with Tuitt – Row over cost of living adjustment continues

POSTED: 02/20/13 12:43 PM

St. Maarten – The President of the Windward Island Teachers Union Claire Elshot yesterday reacted to statements made by Finance Minister Roland Tuitt two weeks prior on the payout of the 2011 cost of living adjustment (Cola). At that time, Tuitt, while responding to suggestions by the union to add the Cola payment to the 2013 budget, said that the union should come forward and show him where to find the additional funds to pay the Cola. The government has repeatedly said that the Cola has become unsustainable but is still to present an alternative proposal to the organized consultative body (GOA).

“I have noticed in the press that the Minister of Finance was actually challenging the union to take over his seat. I find that is a dangerous precedence. I felt that as a union, we were being singled out. This Cola is not for teachers alone it is due to all civil servants, including police and Coast Guards. Asking us how to bring in the dollars, that is not part of our task, we view our task as a social partner,” the union president said.

Elshot suggested that the Minister of Finance invite all unions to a social dialogue to discuss how salary adjustments are to take place. She said that these adjustments should be placed on the budget through either marketing initiatives or money that would come from a revamped tax collection.

Justifiably Tempo should bring in marketing dollars and the marketing of St. Maarten. Tomorrow the Minister will ask me where he should find money to pay me my salary. No, that is out of order and not ethical anymore, we have to keep things on a straight line,” she added.

The reiterated that the cost of living is very high on St. Maarten as opposed to other countries in the Kingdom.

The Finance Minister last week announced that he would be on a fact finding mission to the Netherlands to see how the Dutch government was able to handle the cost of living adjustment.

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