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St. Maarten union WICSU/PSU to hold meeting with membership on cost-of-living adjustment


~ Date to be determined ~

PHILIPSBURG–Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) will hold an extraordinary meeting with its members on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), of which government plans to pay 50 per cent on November 15.

WICSU/PSU President Dearie Leonard, who was off-island this week, told The Daily Herald on Friday that the union’s next move would be to meet with its members when she returned to the country.

She said the union had not given Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) any mandate to make a public statement on behalf of the civil servants union.

WITU President Claire Elshot told reporters on Tuesday that WITU would accept the 50 per cent of the 4.6 per cent COLA payment for 2011 that has been budgeted in the recently approved 2013 budget. Elshot did not make any statement on behalf of WICSU/PSU.

However, Elshot said the payment should be indexed to workers’ salaries and not paid in a lump sum. WITU also expects government to include the additional 50 per cent in the 2014 budget.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams told reporters at the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday that while government had decided to make 50 per cent of the payment on November 15, it would be paid in a lump sum. There also is no guarantee that the remaining 50 per cent will be included in the 2014 budget, as the main focus will be for the budget to be approved, she said.

When asked why the union had decided to accept half of the COLA payment, Elshot said the union had been informed in the various deliberations and in the recent meeting with Wescot-Williams and several other ministers that the budgeting process was at a point where making corrections would not be possible.

Elshot said the union had provided an update on the COLA matter on the second day of the Teachers Conference held last week, after the issue had been raised by secondary school educators. She said the union would have to present this information to its members. She said at least one other union already had presented the information to its membership that it also would accept the budgeted 50 per cent.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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