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St. Maarten government to modernize structure of civil servants’ Organized Consultative Body (GOA)


PHILIPSBURG–Government will be working towards changing the structure of the consultative body for issues related to civil servants GOA. The issue was briefly discussed in the Council of Ministers’ meeting on Tuesday. Follow up talks will be held for a draft proposal to be presented to Parliament, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams told reporters at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing.

Modernizing the structure of the consultative body was one of the issues raised by unions during a meeting with several ministers last week on the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). The Prime Minister said she agreed to “take up” the matter.

As it is at the moment, the GOA is an independent body. Ministers are currently not part of the structure. Wescot-Williams said proposals had been on the table in the past regarding changes to the structure of the GOA. The current legislation governing the GOA of Country St. Maarten dates back to 1984.  In 2008, the former Central Government of the now dismantled Netherlands Antilles had proposed changes to the structure of the GOA and the then NA islands were asked to incorporate those changes in their respective GOA structures. St. Maarten chose not to continue with that law and instead drafted changes to the LMA for consultation issues pertaining to government workers.

Wescot-Williams said she had given the changes her approval after talks with the GOA in January. During last week’s meeting with the unions, Wescot-Williams said she had been “reminded” about discussions to change and modernize the structure of the GOA as a consultation partner for government on personnel issues. Wescot-Williams said she promised to take up the issue. She said the former Justice Minister had asked to look at the draft law as it relates to the position of employees of the Justice Ministry, and in particular the police, as they fall under different regulations where their positions are concerned.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten


Unions to meet in GOA Friday to formulate response to government


PHILIPSBURG–The various unions representing civil servants, teachers, police and immigration personnel will meet in the GOA this Friday to formulate a response to government’s request for their advice on the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams had told reporters at last Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing that she had officially sent government’s position on the COLA for 2011 to the various unions via the GOA and has requested the advice of the consultative body “as soon as possible” on the matter. She said she could not find any formal correspondence to the unions via the GOA where their advice on the COLA had been requested.

Discussions on the COLA via the GOA dates back several months.  Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot announced the convening of the meeting at Tuesday’s Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) weekly press conference. The GOA is the advisory body to government on issues related to civil servants.

The meeting is scheduled for 9:00am. WITU and the Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/ Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) are members of the GOA and the NAPB and ABVO St. Maarten union are observers.  WICSU/PSU and WITU are firmly against government’s unilateral decision to include 50 per cent of the 2011 COLA payment in the 2013 budget.

Both unions say they were not consulted before this decision was made. The unions say their membership is demanding 100 per cent payment for 2011 and 2012 and would accept nothing less.  Government had indicated that the 50 per cent for 2011 that had been budgeted cannot be paid until the budget has been finalised.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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