Published On: Wed, Jun 10th, 2020

Unions still at odds with government over salary cuts

Unified unions of St. Maarten

PHILIPSBURG – The labor unions and the Council of Ministers still have not reached an agreement about the 12.5 cut in the labor conditions for civil servants – a requirement for receiving continued financial support from the Netherlands. From a press release issued by the CCSU (Committee Civil Servants Unions), it appears that the unions are willing to agree to the deferral of certain entitlements but that they want to get that money back in subsequent years.

As the latest in a seemingly endless series of proposals and counter-proposals, the unions proposed on June 1 a deferral of 50 percent of the vacation allowance in 2020 and 2021; they want to see that money come back however through the payment of 125 percent of the current allowances in 2022, 23, 24 and 25. The unions propose to ratify this arrangement in a national decree.

But so far, the Council of Ministers has not reacted. CCSU general secretary Suenah Laville-Martis writes in a press release that it asked for a response on June 3, sent a reminder on June 9 and had not heard anything by June 9.

The CCSU outlined the negotiation process that began on May 6 in detail because of “different inaccuracies in press briefings, press releases, and interviews stating that agreements have been made between both parties.”

On May 29, Finance Minister Ardwell Irion proposed a cut in vacation allowances for the years 2020 and 2021; this would save the government 7.7 million guilders (($4.3 million). According to the 2020 budget, the total for personnel costs is 180.4 million guilders, so this cut in vacation allowances represents just a bit more than 4.2 percent.

Irion wanted to compensate these cuts starting in the year 2022 by paying out a maximum of 25 percent on top of the allowances to be paid out in 2020 and 2021 – until the cuts are fully compensated.

Earlier, on May 25, Irion made other cost-cutting proposals totaling 11 million guilders (($6.1 million) – amounting to 6.1 percent in savings on personnel costs.   These measures included a moratorium on travel and accommodation costs, cuts in uniform budgets, the earlier mentioned cut in vacation allowances, and a cut in overtime pay that excluded frontline workers.

During the very first (virtual) meeting on May 6 the Council of Ministers presented yet three other measures it had approved, the CCSU writes in its press statement: a 2 percent cut in all salaries, an 8 percent cut in salaries between 4,000 and 6,000 guilders and an 18 percent cut in salaries above 8,000 guilders plus a 100 percent cut in vacation allowance and a 10 percent salary cut until the end of 2020.

The press release does not clarify whether this 10 percent comes on top of other cuts.

When the union representatives asked to receive these proposals in writing they got a discussion paper containing 21 measures.


Related links:
Press release CCSU