End to favouritism is urged on Labour Day

End to favouritism is  urged on Labour Day

The march from Santa Famia Church.


WILLEMSTAD--Discrimination and exclusion is something many employees still experience in 2024 and are very much bothered by. It includes preferential treatment of friends at all levels in society and must now come to an end.

Secretary General George Hernandez of the trade union centre “Central General di Trahadornan di Corsow” (CGTC) spoke out strongly about this at the Labour Day celebration on Wednesday, May 1. Its main theme this year was “Respect the right to participation and stop discrimination against employees”.

Unfortunately, the latter still happens, especially in small communities, “where it is not what you know that is most important, but rather who you know. Or, if you are critical and have the law on your side, don't intervene to remain eligible for a promotion,” said Hernandez.

“Standing up together against all these forms of discrimination requires a lot of effort in combination with legal measures and a continuous culture of awareness. Government must introduce anti-discrimination laws that comply with the prescribed international covenants. Only this way can you achieve real participation and equal development opportunities for everyone.”

page15b243EAt the bust of Felix Chakutoe.The union leader referred to agreement 111 of the International Labour Organization (ILO). This states that all organisations have the right to representation, access to mediation and equal opportunities in the process of negotiations.

“All segments of the community, from government to the private sector and trade unions, need to join hands to achieve this. It is not only necessary to help the economy move forward, but especially to promote human and social growth of a society where everyone feels heard and appreciated,” said Hernandez.

Wendell Muelen of “Sentral di Sindikatonan di Korsou” (SSK) also emphasised the latter. They want to deal with stakeholders in a serious manner and enter into dialogue to implement changes in the interest of the working class.

There are at least 19 rules SSK wants to discuss, because these are in conflict with current legislation. He specifically mentioned the Employment Regulation 2000 in which a distinction is made is between the port and the airport, the zero-hour contracts (short contracts) and abuse by employment agencies, which carries a penalty of two years in prison or fine of 25,000 Netherlands Antillean guilders.

But they also oppose plans to increase the old age pension AOV age from 65 to 67 years, a retirement age many do not even reach due to the heavy work.

Muelen mentioned the minimum wage and recognition of trade unions too, as well as reopening the refinery requiring more transparency.

There were also positive developments, such as a new collective labour agreement (CLA) which includes a refund of the benefits given up during the COVID-19 pandemic. “But sitting back with arms crossed is not an option for unions. There is still too much wrong with that.”

Minister Ruthmilda Larmonie-Cecilia of Social Development, Labour and Welfare SOAW discussed reform of the social security system. “The labour market has changed drastically, but our approach has lagged behind. Tourism is the biggest pillar, but unemployment is still too high.”

“We are getting older, but the AOV fund is under high pressure because premium income is dropping due to the ageing population. We need workers and that is why the social security system must change.”

The celebration of Labour Day took place again this year for the first time since 2017 jointly by the three union centres. The topic of participation is very important at the moment because education unions Doen and STSK want to gain access to the Centrally Organised Consultation in Civil Service Affairs CGOA, but do not meet the legal requirements for admission.

The event started on the morning with a traditional Holy Mass at the Church of Santa Famia, followed by the annual march through the streets of Otrobanda to the bust of late union leader Phelippi Benito “Felix” Chakutoe (1891-1967) at Awasá, where various trade union organisations laid a wreath. Afterwards there was a social-cultural gathering at nearby Mathey Wharf.

The Daily Herald

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