Union leader Elshot to ILO conference in Geneva

POSTED: 05/25/12 2:00 PM

St. Maarten – President of the Windward Islands Teachers Union Witu Claire Elshot will be part of a tripartite team representing workers, government and businesses heading to the 101st International Labor Organization (ILO) Conference in Geneva from May 29 to June 14. There are two important agenda points; the social protection floor for social justice and fair globalization as well as the youth employment crisis. This is the second time that Elshot will attend the conference.
On Wednesday night Elshot told a group of social activists that, “The whole world will be in Geneva. The first thing that is going to come out of these sessions are recommendations and depending on how much time we have we may even flow over into formatting international conventions.”
The union leader reflected on her experience at last year’s ILO conference where conventions were adopted for the protection of the rights of domestic workers. “After the entire process that we went through, my mind was broadened. I came back to St.Maarten saying to myself if domestic workers can have conventions to protect their rights, what about our teachers and other groups.”
She said that the issues of youth employment, social justice and social protection are issues that are currently affecting our island and with the ILO giving such priority to these issues, the government ought to follow.
“We have youths that are not as privileged as others and we have to give them that chance. Our ministers are lacking the sensitivity of the social fabric of the island. It is already two years as country and we are yet to see any laws being drafted or implemented to protect workers,” Elshot said.
The union lady admitted that it is often difficult to explain the social landscape of St.Maarten to her international counterparts, especially at conferences such as the one in Geneva, but it was necessary.
“To tell you the truth when you have to tell your story out there, it will seem as if you are hanging out your dirty linen but St.Maarten has to look for ways and means to make things better for its people.” Elshot revealed that she had spoken to a religious organization on the French side which said that it was shocking, during a recent food and material distribution drive, to find that many people who had worked with the government for years were living in abject poverty.
“This is something that I feel is shameful, because we have a department of Labor and Social Affairs but it is like we have an x on the social affairs section. They took off people off of the onderstand list without notice. Some of them are handicapped. What’s happening to the Pelican workers? They don’t receive one red dime and in Holland when you have a situation like that you have social systems that kick in to make sure that those workers get some social aid until their situation is clarified or they find other jobs.”
One of the conclusions of the ILO 2011 conference was “the need for a recommendation complementing the existing standards that would provide flexible but meaningful guidance to member States in building Social Protection Floors within comprehensive social security systems tailored to national circumstances and levels of development.”
The St.Maarten Senior Citizens and Pensioners association said that it hoped that the Witu president will use the opportunities presented in Geneva to highlight the disparities within the Kingdom as it relates to healthcare, as well.

Did you like this? Share it:
Union leader Elshot to ILO conference in Geneva by

Comments are closed.