The Unions and the government have been meeting regularly to discuss how to best move forward with necessary cuts. The last proposal was delivered to the unions on Monday, May 25th, which entailed a vacation pay cut of 50% for 2020 and 2021, leaving salaries untouched. Other cuts like uniforms, travel costs, and overtime for those that aren’t front-line workers will account for the remainder of the cuts needed to fulfill the condition of 12.5% cut of overall personnel costs.
The Minister of Finance has voiced his appreciation for all the phone calls, emails, and direct conversations with civil servants and teachers. This has given him more insight and motivation to find solutions that have the least impact on the people during an already trying time. The Minister of Finance stated, “Civil servants and teachers have also proposed reasonable alternatives that are seriously being looked into.” Such as accepting the 50% cut for the years 2020 and 2021 and being reimbursed in the year 2022 by 200%. He expressed his confidence in being able to come to a consensus by continued dialogue with the stakeholders involved.
The Government of St. Maarten received a counter proposal from the Unions today, Thursday May 28th, 2020. This counter proposal will be thoroughly reviewed this week but a brief perusal of the document hints that there might be demands as oppose to suggestions. For example, the proposal is requesting the government to initiate the implementation of an economic stimulus plan by July 1st, 2020, and increase the fees for directors’ licenses from Naf 500 to Naf 1,000. Minister Irion ended by saying, “Things are tough right now and the conditions set by The Netherlands are undesirable given our vulnerable position after hurricane Irma, but we will do what we must to take care of all of our people. We have to find a way together because we are in this together.”