Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs called for an urgent meeting with the Council of Ministers and the Windward Islands Collective Labor Union (WICLU). The meeting was requested to provide clarity and answer any outstanding questions to the unions. This meeting also served to inform the Council of Ministers regarding the ongoing manifestations in order to ensure collaboration in the interest of all the people of St. Maarten.
On Thursday, June 25, 2020, the meeting was held with the Council of Minister and WICLU representatives from the WICSU/PSU, WITU, WIFOL, NAPB, and the ABVO Sint Maarten, along with Mr. Jessurun of the Anti-Poverty Platform. Prime Minister Jacobs apologized for not providing timely responses, seeing the hard work to prepare and finalize all aspects to be able to comply with the proposed measures. They also expressed solidarity with the workers who were out of work, underemployed, or only receiving a portion of their pay as a result of the Sint Maarten Stimulus and Relief Plan. The government also clarified that no salaries of civil servants would be cut and the understanding related to the vacation pay cut was indeed what had been agreed upon in previous meetings.
The WICLU was provided the opportunity to present the challenges encountered within the private sector and explained areas of concern within all sectors. They also explained the reasoning behind the manifestations as unity among members, lack of proper communication, and being against the measures which infringe on their workers’ rights.
The WICLU further elaborated on the content of their letter of June 19th, wherein their stance is that the cost-cutting conditions, imposed by the Kingdom Council of Ministers, to obtain the much-needed liquidity support, are in violation of human rights, and in some cases a violation of international and local labor agreements. The unions in their letter further reiterated that these cost-cutting conditions are considered an act of social and racial discrimination within the kingdom, as they are only being implemented on this side of the Atlantic. Furthermore, the union would like the Council of Ministers to publicly state their agreement with this and to follow up with further actions in the deliberations and negotiations with the Netherlands. This is because St. Maarten only agreed to the proposed conditions insofar as they were executable within the framework of our local, Kingdom, and International laws.
The Council of Ministers will continue to deliberate on the matter, considering the arguments presented and the letter sent by the WICLU, to determine what concrete actions should follow. The meeting was
a fruitful one and both parties agreed to continue to dialogue in the interest of the best interest of the people of St. Maarten. The unions will also receive responses within short to all written correspondences received.