PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Sunday said that while he expected silence from the Minister of Finance on government’s illegal paying out of vacation pay to some civil servants, he did however expected much more from the unions in the country representing workers.
Once again calling it “discriminatory, unfair and clearly illegal” the MP explained that the vacation pay was paid out to persons who left government service “in direct contravention of the law (national ordinance) to cut the employment benefits and income of civil servants, (semi) public sector workers.” Those who are currently in government service are not receiving anything.
The MP has questioned the Minister of Finance on the issue and to date no explanation, public or otherwise, have been offered by the Minister. Adding insult to injury, he said, the unions, all of them, have been eerily quiet on the issue instead of defending their workers.
“Over and over we have seen reports from the CFT for example that indicate that the 12.5% cuts in income are yielding nothing to government in terms of savings. In fact, personnel costs have gone up as government continues its regular hiring purposes,” Emmanuel said. “As if this insult wasn’t bad enough, the government is picking and choosing who gets what benefits and the unions are saying nothing.
“Not even to look into it and determine why workers still within government service are being denied while those leaving are getting against the law. Why are these bodies that are supposed to be looking out for their workers, allowing government to walk back and forth over the same workers? They deserve to hear about the abuse of their rights,” MP Emmanuel said.
The MP also took notice that the Integrity Chamber has also not weighed in on the issue but offers unsolicited “flimsy advice” on other matters. “This is why their budget was cut and should be cut even more until that entity is no more. Blatant integrity issues in this government and the Integrity Chamber just sits to collect a salary. No meaningful action whatsoever from an entity that was forced upon us,” he said.
“These abusive laws were passed and went into effect. This is an illegal pick-and-choose practice that both the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance are accountable for and must explain,” the MP said.
He continued: “From the beginning I said these laws were abusive. They started out as so-called solidarity cuts, now it is tied to liquidity support. Where is the solidarity from those in the Kingdom, especially the handlers in Holland, and those at select entities here on St. Maarten that still receives all of their benefits? It is bad enough that civil servants cannot get what is due to them, but now they have to watch others leave with benefits while they continue to sacrifice and suffer. And now, sacrifice and suffer while their unions allow additional illegalities to occur.”