Published On: Sat, May 9th, 2020

Elshot: government wants to cut vacation allowance for civil servants

Claire Elshot-Aventurin

PHILIPSBURG – Cutting the vacation allowance for all civil servants who earn more than 4,000 guilders a month, a ten percent salary cut for those who earn more than 8,000 guilders, a freeze on bonuses and increments. Finance Minister Ardwell Irion floated those ideas on Thursday during a meeting with all unions representing civil servants and members of the committee Civil Servants Union (formerly known as the GOA).

Unionist Claire Elshot-Aventurin posted details about the meeting on Facebook, labeling the minister’s ideas as wishful thinking, followed by a question mark. Elshot wrote that a decision about these cost-cutting measures would have to be taken by May 15 – next week Friday.

Apparently, the minister told the union representatives present at the meeting that the government did not plan COVID-19, that he did not know how and when the crisis will end and that he did not have the privilege to plan ahead. Furthermore, Irion said, according to Elshot, that there is a need for a “St. Maarten approach” and that the government needs “the backing of the unions as an active partner in this process.”

Elshot notes in her post that Irion did not specify the cost-cutting measures already taken by the government or the number of people that lost their job as a result of the corona-crisis. “There, we as unions remained in the dark.”

But Irion attempted to sell his cost-cutting ideas with the following remark: “What do you prefer – a vacation allowance or no salary for the months of August, September and October?”

Elshot speaks in her Facebook-post of the “pain and agony” civil servants, police officers, justice department workers, frontline workers and teachers already have experienced.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs also took part in this meeting. According to Elshot, Jacobs mentioned the zero-percent loan from the Netherlands and the government’s need to look for financial support. “When looking for other sources of funding, the government needs the approval of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and these loans will have to be repaid with interest.”

Furthermore, Jacobs allegedly said that the ministers are prepared to take an additional 5 percent salary cut on top of what parliament already agreed upon.

Jacobs’ reported remark, “It is what it is,” about the corona-virus crisis drew a cynical response from Elshot in her Facebook-post: Really?”

Photo caption: Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot-Aventurin. Facebook photo.

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Related links:
Facebook-post union leader Claire Elshot-Aventurin