Union suspicious of government’s financial woes tagline

POSTED: 07/10/13 12:56 PM

St. Maarten – As frustrations mount over the delayed payment or non-payment of the cost of living adjustment (Cola) for 2011 and 2012, unions are now questioning whether the government really has financial woes. Speaking on behalf of the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions (Wiclu) Claire Elshot yesterday heavily criticized successive governments for pumping even more money into promotional activities instead of investing in their people. The brunt of Elshot’s attack centered on the government’s marketing contract with Tempo Networks.
“We were told that a proposal would come on the sustainability of the Cola, that proposal never came. We questioned the real seriousness in the financial part of government due to the fact that Tempo turned 7 and they came to celebrate it in heaven. This thing about Tempo really sparked a negative attitude from the unions and their members because if you are seriously saying as a government that there are financial problems, we should see then the sacrifices across the board,” Elshot said.

The veteran trade unionist got very creative in describing how sustainable social development should be handled in any economy.
“It is always good to know that when a government straps their belt until their tongue is hanging out, that we can follow. I as a worker would then be very willing to also make that little sacrifice for us to be able to get our financial house in order. It could never be that the workers organizations and their workers are going to look at lavish spending, unnecessary type of things; and then call it a promotion for St. Maarten.”

Elshot cited the case of Trinidad and Tobago where teachers of the twin island federation turned the state red as they protested against a backlog of their Cola payments. While St. Maarten no longer has a backlog, the island could soon find itself in that place again, with the halfway mark for the year 2013 just passed.
The union is still to hear from government in the matter, and maintains that any change that is made to the actual structure of the Cola must be done in consultation with workers’ representatives.

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