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MP Wescot: “Time to renegotiate the cuts in workers’ benefits comprehensively, otherwise we are shooting ourselves in the foot.”

sarahwescotwilliams10072016PHILIPSBURG:--- The government is expecting that its proposal of law to sanction its unlawful act of paying out vacation allowance will be passed by Parliament on Monday.
“As can be recalled the government paid out vacation allowance in June to civil servants. There is currently a law in place that cancels the vacation allowance payment, as well as reduces vacation days and overtime payments”, MP Wescot Williams explains.

The government has found all types of arguments to cover up the fact that it acted against the law, but its argument regarding its legal right to do so without the approval of parliament is really neither here nor there.

No one can contest the fact that the annual vacation allowance payment is very much appreciated by civil servants and for varying reasons. Arguments such as persons needing to pay school fee and get school stuff etcetera are valid and definitely not overstated.

“That many people on St. Maarten are hurting is also not an exaggeration. I experience it every single day.”
In the view of the MP, the government needed to inform parliament of its intentions, provide a financial overview and ask for parliament’s approval to go ahead and pay out the vacation allowance in the absence of a legal basis.

MP Wescot emphasized, “They did not! They paid out the vacation allowance and now want the parliament to approve this law retroactively. Even now the government has not provided the financial paragraph for this payment and I have in the past addressed the ambiguous situation with respect to the CFT’s advice on the matter.

But even more concerning is how the government is handling or rather not handling the 12 ½ percent cut in the salaries of the other workers. Other workers meaning those who work for semi-government institutions. The cutting of the salaries of the other workers is part of the law that maximizes the so-called top incomes. The government, on instructions of the Dutch government, has amended the so-called top incomes law, but went only as far as amending the law to meet the requirements of the Dutch government, explained MP Wescot.

‘While the Prime Minister is pushing to get the law passed to cover their tracks of paying out vacation allowance to civil servants without the required parliamentary approval or authorization, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are seemingly on a campaign to fix (for the lack of a better word) the payment of vacation allowance to the other workers, such as teachers employed by school boards and many others.”

Again it seems to be expected of parliament to sit back and wait and see when and how the government will deal with the top incomes law and address how school board employees and others will get the relief that civil servants got through the payment of vacation allowance.

The top incomes law as far as it relates to the 12 ½% cut in salary benefits states that every institution that applied the law should publicize how. To give an example, if school board X chose to apply the 12 ½ percent cut by amongst others not paying vacation allowance and for the rest cut other benefits, school board X should make that known.

“Up to now, I as a member of parliament have no information as to how any semi-government institution has complied with the law”.

“Some might have cut the vacation allowance of their workers, others might have not and I have stated from day one that the rationale behind a 12 ½ percent cut in workers’ benefits at the time when this was demanded and done, was flawed economic reasoning. This should therefore be undone as soon as possible for all workers, in its entirety.”

To facilitate this, the parliament of Saint Martin in approving the laws labeled temporary, gave the government the authority to cancel these laws by a decision of the government, formalized in a national decree. To undo both laws that slashed workers benefits with 12 ½%, the government has the mandate to do so by national decree.

“Rather than muddying the waters with actions by individual ministers, the COM should collectively make a strong case for reinstating the workers’ benefits that I maintain were imposed on St. Maarten more out of frustration with the government’s actions towards The Hague than any sound economic arguments”, MP Wescot concluded.



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