Union will keep fighting for social protection floor

POSTED: 02/6/13 12:21 PM

St. Maarten -The Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) wants to continue dialogue on the social protection floor with the government. During yesterday’s weekly Wifol press conference union president Claire Elshot said that the union is sticking to International Labor Organization conventions and will ensure that no unionized worker is left without benefits.

The union is currently researching aspects of payments for workers that were not part of the pension funds for a specific period.

“We are not convinced that any worker should carry the negative impact of the negligence of the government not being able to put them in the fund. If you are a part of the fund from inception, the government has to play its part anyhow in the fund. Especially if you were part of the fund before 1998, the premium the government had to contribute to each worker was 26 percent while the worker had to pay 8 percent. Later on it was lowered and became equal at 8/8 percent. Right now it is back up again and the government’s portion is 16 percent. They would have had to put that money for 30 years in that fund in their part anyhow.”

Elshot said that if the government failed to ensure that everyone was contributing to the fund, it should not chastise persons who are now at the age 60 and qualify for an allowance.

“You cannot chastise people for not being a part of the fund in the time that you feels they should be part of the fund. We will come up with what has to happen in the form of a social protection floor for the workers so that they are not left behind.”

In 2000, the Windward Island Civil Servants Union/ Private Sector Union (WICSU/ PSU) and WITU took out a class action suit against the government for issues related to the social protection floor, Elshot said.

The class action suit resulted in a protocol being established in 2002 where director of the pension fund and then deputy Commissioner of General Affairs Roy Marlin signed for the protection of workers’ rights.

“Thirteen years later, we don’t expect to have hiccups of this nature,” Elshot said.



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