Unions to meet today on cost of living

POSTED: 08/16/13 1:12 PM

St. Maarten – At 9 a.m., unions that form part of the Organized Consultative Body (GOA) will meet at the Windward Islands Civil Servants Union (WICSU) headquarters on Pondfill. The emergency meeting is being convened to discuss the government’s non-payment to date of the 2011 and 2012 cost of living adjustment (Cola) disbursement to civil servants. WICSU president Derie Leonard told Today that the ABVO, NAPB and WITU unions will join her to chart a course forward.

Coincidentally, the move comes as Finance Minister Martin Hassink stated Wednesday that government was evaluating overall personnel costs with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams adding that nothing had changed regarding the government’s position on the Cola, the system still needs to be reviewed and the 2013 budget is still to reach parliament.

Leonard insists that the GOA meeting, independent of government representatives, was planned before Wednesday’s announcement. Stories featured on online news websites indicating that government would not pay the Cola sparked a wave of hysteria. WICSU said that this is not unexpected but in the absence of formal communication from government worker’s representatives, for months, speculation will remain rife.

“Government did not send an official letter to us stating that they are not paying the Cola. They are going to the media and this is complete disrespect to the civil servants. WICSU definitely will not accept it for sure. Government has to know that whatever action they take, there will be consequences, whether good or bad. Just pay us the 2011 and 2012 Cola and we can sit at the table and discuss the 2013 one,” Leonard stated.

Today’s meeting of the unions will set the stage for a concrete decision, which will then be transmitted to the various teachers, police, immigration and other government personnel that are represented by the unions.

“To communicate via the media is disrespectful to your civil servants and anyone who is working for you,” Leonard reiterated.

“I am going to answer them back in the media. A couple of months aback, the Prime Minister said that she would get back to us and up until this day she has not gotten back to us. It seems that the government in a whole only knows how to communicate during election time and after that they forget the chain of command concerning communication,” Leonard asserted.


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