Published On: Mon, Jun 29th, 2020

Unions file complaint against salary cuts

Unified unions of St. Maarten

PHILIPSBURG – The Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions (WICLU) has filed a complaint with the Attorney General about what it labels as “punishable acts of racial discrimination, embezzlement and theft.” The complaint targets financial supervisor Cft chairman Prof. dr. Raymond Gradus, State Secretary Drs. Raymond Knops, the Kingdom Council of Ministers and St. Maarten’s Council of Ministers.

The WICLU addressed its complaint erroneously to Attorney General Guus Schram who returned to the Netherlands in September 2017 and was succeeded by Roger Bos. The letter was delivered via email to the Prosecutor’s Office in St. Maarten where Chief Prosecutor Mirjam Mol confirmed its receipt and replied that she had forwarded it to the Attorney General’s office.

The complaint, signed by the presidents of seven labor unions, refers to several articles in the penal code that have to do with theft, embezzlement and discrimination. The unions ask the Attorney General for an investigation and for the prosecution of what it considers to be the guilty parties.

The unions oppose cuts in labor conditions that are a condition for receiving further liquidity support. On May 15, these conditions were discussed and approved by the Kingdom Council of Ministers after an advice from financial supervisor Cft that was contested by its board members from St. Maarten, Curacao and Aruba. Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs labeled the conditions as an “indecent proposal” but Minister Plenipotentiary René Violenus later informed State Secretary Knops that St. Maarten accepted it “unconditionally.”

The WICLU points out in its complaint that the parliament in St. Maarten accepted the conditions for liquidity support, providing that theSe conditions do not violate local or Kingdom laws, international charters, conventions and protocols.

The WICLU furthermore states in the letter that it has a mandate from its membership “not to accept any cuts in labor conditions, workers’ rights and economic and social human rights.”

In a meeting with the Council of Ministers on June 12, the unions denounced the proposed cost cutting measures as “racial discrimination” and demanded their withdrawal by June 15.

The unions state that no cuts were imposed on workers in the Dutch part of the kingdom, the BES-islands, the governor or Dutch European police officers and customs officers working in St. Maarten: “All workers in the kingdom should be treated the same, none should be obliged to be cut in their remuneration.”

Related article:
Opinion by Hilbert Haar: “Racial discrimination