Unions close ranks for cost of living discussion

POSTED: 09/10/12 12:07 AM

St. Maarten / 7 Sept. 2012 – President of the Windward Island Teachers Union Claire Elshot called on all union leaders to prepare themselves for a September 12 meeting with Prime Minister Wescot-Williams to discuss the cost of living adjustment (Cola) and other personnel matters. The unions will get together today.
“We are now looking at our different rights and privileges and we are now coming together with other unions to prepare ourselves for meetings that are to come,” Elshot said yesterday.
She emphasized the importance of the discussion on structurally adjusting salaries since prices are increasing globally and the consumer is usually the one to bear the burden of hikes in oil, wheat and corn from which many other products are made.
“We noticed that within a time span of a week we had an increase in the gasoline price and these are the key factors why we as unions should strongly maintain a unified position on the cost of living adjustment,” Elshot charged.
Price controlled items are not enough to contribute to healthy living, Elshot added.
“We have noted that a lot of people with their diet that they need to have a healthy lifestyle; this package should be broadened. Fruits and vegetables should also be playing a key role in that controlled price (index) that they have.”
Elshot reiterated that pensioners should also be included in the group that receives Cola payments.
“You cannot have a pensioner living in a society and their pension is not being adjusted. They also have to maintain a certain level when they reach retirement.”
Elshot said that she had received complaints that only persons who receive an allowance by way of a pension have gotten a small increase in their pensions since August.
“It is the government’s responsibility to make funds available to the APS to also be able to pay Cola to workers who have an APS pension.”
She noted that teachers are still working with resolutions from the Island Territory of St.Maarten and the Netherlands Antilles instead of a formal updated resolution that they are working in Country St.Maarten.
The union leader called on the government, school boards and all those in authority to maintain the rights and benefits of the workers despite this being a young democracy.
“There were times in the past that we have noticed that the government has tried to cut away certain benefits. We are seeing this happening every day.”

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