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Teacher's union disagrees strongly with St. Maarten prime minister's position on not including cost-of-living adjustment in 2013 budget


~ Says: ‘teachers can’t be piggy bank’ for everyone ~

PHILIPSBURG–A recent letter from Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams to the advisory body for civil servants’ issues GOA referring to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) as a prerogative of government for workers has drawn the ire of Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot.

The WITU President said she disagrees strongly with the Prime Minister’s position as the COLA is a right of the workers. “This is the wrong perception,” Elshot told reporters on Thursday at the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) weekly press conference. “The COLA is a right of workers.”

The letter from the Prime Minister was addressed to the GOA Secretary. Elshot said the 2011 COLA payment which stands at 5.3 per cent had not been included in the 2013 budget. She said the union had been a proponent of integrating the COLA payments into workers’ salaries as this would help build their salaries.

Elshot said the union could not accept that the COLA payment could not be made while government was forking out a huge sum of money on the Tempo Turns 7 event. She said the union would understand if it were a natural disaster that the money was going towards, but “Tempo is not a hurricane.”

She added that teachers could not be others’ “piggy bank,” meaning every time money is needed government “dips” into the money for teachers to offset expenses for some other purpose.

The unions have been meeting with government via the GOA on the COLA. One earlier meeting had been postponed.

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