~ To await Constitutional Court decision ~
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten — On Tuesday, June 29th, the Honorable Ministers of General Affairs Silveria Jacobs; Justice, Anna Richardson; Finance, Ardwell Irion; Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, drs. Rodolphe Samuel; and Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Omar Ottley met with the Committee for Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) members; WICSU-PSU, WITU, ABVO with representatives of NAPB upon invitation of government to ensure inclusion. During the meeting, the Ministers and the union representatives were allowed to explain their positions on the 12.5% cost-cutting measures on the employment benefits, determine the way forward and to present a joint press release of the positive meeting.
The union representatives were informed that the government had done all to fulfill its agreements with the government of the Netherlands to receive liquidity support while awaiting the Constitutional Court decision of the petition of the Ombudsman; however, liquidity remains a challenge. Government’s intention to ensure payment of salaries in full, although there is limited liquidity available even with the recent 5th tranche, liquidity support of NAf 39 million remains a strive.
The government intends to pay out the 3% (50% vacation pay) withheld in June 2020; as soon as calculations are finalized to pay. Nevertheless, the NAf 3.5 million representing 50% of the vacation pay needs to be sought financially elsewhere; this requires further discussion with parties. However, the intention is also to agree to pay out the balance of the 6% (full vacation pay) owed for 2021 in two equal tranches every three months, though this will depends on when liquidity becomes available.
The challenging reality of the present situation is that should the laws pass the scrutiny of the Court and
be enacted; then the legal basis will lead to a situation where calculations would have to be reviewed and the vacation pay that was received will need to be repaid. Nevertheless, the unions and ministers have agreed to return to the table to discuss possible options to realize the cuts as well as after the Court’s decision.
All parties present highlighted the importance of continued transparent communication and agreed unilaterally on a previously presented proposal to have quarterly meetings and even separate committee meetings depending on the subject at hand. Parties also agreed to meet once the Constitutional Court’s decision is made to discuss the consequences thereof and the way forward. Parties look forward to the ruling of the Constitutional Court so that clarity exists for all concerned.