“Workers are not piggy banks”

POSTED: 11/25/12 8:26 PM

St. Maarten – “No way will the workers be the piggy banks for government,” said president of the Windward Island Teachers Union Claire Elshot at the weekly Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions press conference. She stated that the GOA has received a letter from the Minister of General Affairs Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams which stated that the union should not assume that the cost of living adjustment would be granted for 2013.

Elshot noted that even though the adjustment for 2011 is 5.3%, which she deemed as “very high” it is difficult for the unions to agree with the prime minister who has indicated in the advice to the GOA that this was “a prerogative of the Island Government.”

Elshot maintained that the adjustment is a right of the workers in education. In the new structure the adjustment is incorporated in the salary. “This means that the increment added to the COLA on an annual basis is a significant build up of their salary.”

The government could create new scales or an alternative, Elshot said. “We could look at the new draft and discuss it with the unions and their members. No one should underestimate the intelligence of the teachers.”

“I really don’t believe the prime minister thought that the economic situation is the main factor. Look at what St. Maarten is doing. If there was a crisis, a hurricane or a natural disaster I would understand, but Tempo is not a hurricane,” Elshot said.

The union-leader considers the cost of living adjustment as a right that has to be budgeted, just like the right to a vacation, a Christmas bonus or a salary increase: “Gone are the days where we continue to accept things as if we are blinded.”

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