~ Says cuts against basic human rights ~
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament Christopher Emmanuel on Sunday said that President of WICLU Claire Elshot-Aventurin confirmed what he has been saying all along; that the Prime Minister and her government lied when they said they invited the unions to discuss legislation that would see workers’ salaries and benefits cut.
Elshot-Aventurin was also quoted in the media as saying that it is not true that the unions refused to return for further negotiations which led to government being forced to deviate from the requirement that it needed an agreement for the salary cuts. “The union leader went as far as to call it a blatant lie, which I have no doubt that it is,” Emmanuel said.
“The Prime Minister and her government have been feeding this line to the people as a justification for skipping the unions, the legal representatives of workers. I always knew it was a blatant lie and now we know it is,” the MP said. “When the PM and/or the Minister of Finance is asked, all we got is excuses, lies and contradicting stories.”
MP Emmanuel stressed that government’s actions is a gross violation of not just workers’ rights, but human rights in general. He said government is forcing cuts on workers in contravention to the same international conventions to which the Dutch government subscribe and hold up high as one of their pillars of respecting human rights.
“Cutting workers’ salaries and benefits while having the CFT proudly announce in our local media that it believes that more taxes should be levied on the people of St. Maarten is inhumane and downright criminal,” the MP said.
He added that article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights prescribes that countries that adopt this covenant (Holland included) recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work. Additionally he said, the same covenant calls for, among other things, fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, a decent living for workers and their families, equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate higher level and rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays.
“The government of St. Maarten is in violation of this international covenant by attempting to pass legislation that literally goes against provisions that protect worker rights. The same government boldly told the Dutch that it would not adopt any legislation if it goes against local or international laws and/or conventions. The Netherlands is also in violation for forcing such measures on St. Maarten. Yet here we are. And it is all based on lie after lie after lie,” the MP said.
He said government must also stop insulting the intelligence of its people by telling them they had no choice but to accept cuts as a condition for liquidity support. “What does making life harder or people have to do with reforms? We all agree that there are areas of government that could use some reform. The waste in government is high and even the unions presented option of where government could save without salary and benefit cuts. The savings from these cuts do not justify or validate government’s excuses for the cuts,” MP Emmanuel said.
“You had a choice. Saying we had no choice is a cheap cop out of cowards. And in terms of a whole government actually saying that to its people, borders on treasonous behavior towards your people,” he concluded.