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St. Maarten government looking into how other countries deal with cost-of-living adjustment

THURSDAY, 07 FEBRUARY 2013

PHILIPSBURG–Government will be conducting research into how other countries are handling the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) payments to their workers in a structural manner as efforts are made to come up with a structural solution for this annual payment to teachers and civil servants.

Based on this research, government is hoping to come up with a proposal for the advisory body to government on matters related to civil servants GOA as well as for the unions, on the structural payment of COLA.
Finance Minister Roland Tuitt told reporters at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing that this is being done so that St. Maarten can “fall in line with the rest of the world” as it pertains to COLA payment.

Asked about suggestions from the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) that the 2011 COLA payment should be included in the 2013 budget, Tuitt said government was currently trying to balance this budget and if the union could suggest where government could find NAf. 20 million to pay the COLA structurally, he would “happily” do this. He said the last COLA payment had cost government NAf. 20 million.

WITU President Claire Elshot said on Tuesday that this issue would be high on the union’s agenda this year as many teachers had already started to ask about their 2011 and 2012 COLA payments. Talks on the sustainability of the payment had started with General Affairs Minister Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Elshot said the union was awaiting information on the continuation of the payment in a sustainable way.

She said issues such as these need to be clear, as teachers will lose their patience after a while and the union does not want a repeat of the situation that occurred in the past, obviously referring to the protests and meetings teachers had held, pressing for the payment of this adjustment.

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