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Union to give St. Maarten government ultimatum to resolve Cost of Living adjustment

WEDNESDAY, 20 MARCH 2013

~Ready to mobilize members ~

PHILIPSBURG–The Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) will be issuing an ultimatum to government to resolve the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) issue for workers.

WITU President Claire Elshot said on Tuesday that the union had decided to draft a letter to government with a deadline for resolving the issue, because the patience of teachers is “running out.” She could not say when the deadline would be, as the letter had not been finalized at the time the information was given to the media at the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour (WICLU) weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Elshot said the letter was being sent because there had been no concrete proposal on the payment of COLA to date. She said unions had worked hard in the past to ensure that there would not be a backlog in this payment, and it seemed as if there was going to be a backlog now.

If government did not include COLA in the 2013 budget because of the demands of the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT), she said, other provisions should have been made for this payment. She said government was aware that COLA was due every year and should cater to it.

“Teachers are running out of patience and we will move forward seriously on this issue,” Elshot said, adding that if the matter was not resolved, the union would have to “mobilize its members to tactically deal with this issue.”

Finance Minister Roland Tuitt had said earlier that CAOP, a Holland-based organization, will be conducting a report for the government of St. Maarten on COLA.

Tuitt said he had met with representatives of this organization during his recent visit to The Netherlands and a preliminary agreement to this effect had been made. CAOP will be speaking to representatives of the ministry responsible for personnel affairs, the unions and other stakeholders who have something to do with COLA. The group will be in St. Maarten for three days, during which their report will be prepared.

This report will be the basis for negotiation with the unions regarding the COLA, and for discussions in the advisory body for civil servant matters GOA.

CAOP advises and supports more than 200 employers in various sectors, including the Dutch government and the education and health care sectors. CAOP is the largest knowledge and service centre with regard to the labour market and labour relations within the public domain, it was stated on CAOP’s Website.

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