Patricia Pantophlet Is In support of the Union’s call

Firstly let me preface my statements and for all clarity that that I am in no way a spokesperson for any one of the unions in question.


I am a member of the WICSU/PSU for over thirty years I became a member under the WICSU. I am a firm believer in the role and objectives of Trade Unions worldwide and by no exception St. Maarten. I am also a strong advocate for standing up for one’s rights, equally as complying with one’s obligation.

In Saturday’s, August 17th edition of the Daily Herald a front page the article reads: Unions to meet with workers on COLA. I for one have been anticipating this call, and is therefore supporting the call.

I am making a very strong appeal to fellow civil servants, teachers, police- and prison officers to respond in big numbers to the call from their respective unions namely: WITU, WICSU/PSU and NAPB-St. Maarten, to attend and participate at their respective membership meetings.

During my presidency of the WICSU, my motto has always been that "A Union is as Strong as its membership" I take this opportunity to commend and say that I am very proud of the members of the Health Care Union & Association, who came out and supported their union a few weeks ago. They did not stand up for themselves, but for every potential patient (admitted or not), for every dialysis patient, for every person who is diagnosed with a chronic illness and have to frequently visit the SMMC for treatment, for every visiting tourist who need the services of the SMMC. They stood up for quality healthcare for all! And for that they deserve to be commended.

I implore you to please follow their example!

These are the common excuses and this is generally speaking civil servants use for not attending when meetings are called for their own benefit (I am speaking as my experience with civil servants). "Oh my I forgot;" "I don’t read the papers"; "I don’t listen to radio"; "I don’t look at TV"; "I didn’t check my email for days now" or" "I don’t have anyone to look after my child or children", "I don’t have my own transportation" or "I too tired" When we want to hit a little happy hour, we make arrangements for care for our children or not? Among those common excuses are the disgraceful group who has the attitude and are not ashamed to say it, especially when it regards fighting for monetary benefits such as the COLA to say "Agh, let them go and strike, cause whatever they get I will get anyway" They neither come out to meetings nor take part in any form of action called by their union. Downright shameful!

We all know that it is not the first time we had to take actions to get our COLA paid. The decision taken by Government to budget a lump sum payment is unilateral, plain and simple. And it does not matter how Government tries to sell it. The ILO Convention is very clear in promoting and sanctioned Bi-Partite and Tri-Partite relations. In this case Government failed to sit with Unions on our behalf to come to a lump sum or any other agreement.

We are all very intelligent people and understand the financial challenge Government has in maintaining the form in which the COLA is applied. That is clear to everyone. But why should it take Government almost a year to have consultants from Holland (mind you we are paying for them at least I assume that their airfare, accommodation etc. are paid by us the tax payers) By the way don’t we have any consultants among St.Maarten’s prestigious and internationally recognized consultant firms capable?? Just asking! Government had ample time to offer its proposal to the unions, negotiate the options and come to a mutual agreement with the unions. The unions in turn inform the members of the principle agreement have their membership sanction it and we move everybody happy!

It cannot be acceptable that Government throw away over Fl. 300.00 of savings with respect to the number plate issue using a flimsy lousy excuse; allow unfair treatment where the average consumer and business alike are obligated to pay turn over tax and Casinos are not. It cannot be acceptable when Government has a "Director/s" employed in Holland which we the tax payers don’t know about. A few months ago, senior journalist Eddiie Williams, at a weekly GIS press briefing posed the question to the honorable Prime Minister but in my airs never receive an answer. As a matter of fact that was the first time that I knew that besides the Minster and Acting Minister o f Penitentiary, S4 that there were any other "Director/s" that I as a tax payer knows about and pardon the pun but I do have the right to know. Nor is it acceptable that Government allows over US$ 1 million with the sale of Medical School, as was reported by former Finance Minister Mr. Roland Tuitt and confirmed by current Finance Minister, Mr. Hassink, to "escape"! That could of paid the complete areas of the COLA in its present form.

It cannot be acceptable with all the above that we again are made to fight and beg if you may for our COLA. Fellow civil servant, teachers, police- and prison officers, the ball is your court. I know with God’s grace where I will be when my union invites me to the general membership meeting. Government is anticipating that the unions will not have the strong backing of its members; it’s up to you and I to prove them wrong. I surely will. A reminder: "A Union is As Strong as Its Membership"

Patricia Pantophlet