Published On: Wed, Feb 19th, 2020

Prime Minister Jacobs meets with CCSU on Pension Reform legislation & Function Book of the Fire Department

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs

PHILIPSBURG—Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in her capacity as Minister of General Affairs, met with the Members of the Committee of Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) on Friday, February 7th, 2020. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the draft Pension Reform Legislation and the Function Book of the Sint Maarten Fire Department.

During this meeting, the Members reiterated their concerns pertaining to the draft Pension Reform Legislation that is being debated in Parliament. According to the members, Civil Servants will be adversely affected by changing the “end salary pension” to a “middle salary” pension structure, given that the salaries have not been adjusted over several years. In the meantime, public sector reform and stricter investment conditions are not being enforced. Minister Jacobs expressed her concerns with the fact that 25% of Civil Servants are already living below the unofficial Naf 4.000,00 poverty line. The Minister indicated to have asked the Department of Personnel to investigate adjusting the salaries of the lower scales in Government. The members asked the Minister to consider a few proposals and appealed to the Minister to critically examine the socio-economic impact the reform of the Pension will have on the Civil Servants. Minister Jacobs assured the Members that as a Civil Servant herself, she understands the importance and implications of this draft legislation. The Minister promised to answer the letter sent by the CCSU based on the consultation meeting with her predecessor on July 5th, 2019, and consider the proposals submitted by the members. The Minister requested a month for her staff to review the proposals and return with an answer.

Also, during this meeting, the Minister provided an update on the situation with the Sint Maarten Fire Department. Members were informed that a Consultant has been hired to initiate the process of reviewing and amending the Function Book of the Fire Department. The Minister also informed the Members that the repairs to the Fire Department building are in its final stage.

PM Jacobs inspects Fire Department - Dec 2019In a December 7, 2019, press release, the government had announced at the time that the Minister, who had taken time out from from delivering the keynote address at the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) conference that morning in order to relieve the concerns of the Fire and Ambulance Departments regarding the planned move from their building. The Minister met the workers and union representative Mr. Arrindell and led them into the building to further update them on the resolutions. The union and its representatives had initiated this action as a result of not receiving written correspondence to confirm the Minister’s statements on this topic made during Wednesday’s press briefing that week on December 4.

While the Prime Minister awaits the documentation necessary to prompt the payments needed at the alternate location, all is being done to facilitate this move, the press release stated at the time. Minister Jacobs was taken aback that this information had not been relayed by the Fire Chief as he was a key actor in cementing the agreed upon solution. She expected to have the advice on her desk by mid-morning in order to finalize the financial commitment needed by government later that day.

Minister Jacobs stated at the time, “communication is essential to avoid further misunderstandings.” She further reiterated her commitment to do all that is possible to facilitate the promotion of health, safety and wellness of our emergency staff on St. Maarten.

About the CCSU

The members of the CCSU are appointed every two years based on their official membership count. The CCSU consists of one member from the WICSU-PSU, Mr. Riegnald Arrindell, and his replacement member, Mr. Franklin Mariana, along with one member of the WITU, Mrs. Claire Elshot-Aventurin, and her replacement member, Mr. Robert Rawlins, for the 2018-2020 term. The CCSU is supported by a Secretariat consisting of four persons, the Chairlady, Ms. Jessica Weeks, the Deputy Chairlady, Ms. Sharon Cangieter, the General Secretary, Ms. Suenah Laville, and the Deputy General Secretary, Ms. Nicole Maccow.