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St. Maarten union will now accept 50 per cent Cost of Living Adjustment as budgeted


~Next 50 per cent should be in 2014 budget~

PHILIPSBURG–Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot said the union would be accepting the 50 per cent of the 4.6 per cent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2011 that has been budgeted in the recently approved 2013 budget.

She said, however, that the payment should be indexed to workers salaries and not paid in a lump sum. The union also expects government to include the additional 50 per cent in the 2014 budget.

President of the Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) Dearie Leonard was off island and could not be reached on Tuesday for her union’s position on the matter. Both Leonard and WITU had received a mandate from their membership to accept the full 100 per cent COLA payment for 2011 and had been very vocal that their membership should receive the full payment.

When asked at the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Union (WICLU) weekly press conference on Tuesday why the union is now accepting 50 per cent, Elshot said that the union had been informed in the various deliberations and in the meeting with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and several other ministers recently that the budgeting process is 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. At least one other union had already presented the information to its membership that it also will be accepting the 50 per cent that was budgeted.

The WITU would now want to know from government a firm date as to when the 50 per cent COLA will be paid based on the position of the advisory body to government on civil servants matters – GOA. She said the union expects the payment in “reasonable time.” The union would not entertain any discussion at this stage on lump sum payment, as the payment should be indexed to the salaries of workers, she noted.

The unions had given its official position on the COLA payment via the GOA setting after Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams had requested the position of the GOA on the matter.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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