Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.
PHILIPSBURG--Minister of General Affairs, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs says she will be meeting with the Committee of Civil Servants Union (CCSU) to discuss their concerns over the draft pension reform legislation and to determine a way forward.
CCSU said on Monday that it is not in agreement with the draft and indicated that no consensus was reached between CCSU and government on the way forward after the draft legislation was sent back to the Central Committee of Parliament.
In an invited comment on the matter, Jacobs said her goal is to find solutions. “It is my goal to achieve the best possible solution for the civil servants moving forward, but if the unions neglected to do what they had to do at a certain moment, it would be very difficult to turn back the clock. I will see what can be done, but at this point, I would have to meet with both unions and the organisation to get a clear picture on how we can positively move forward.”
CCSU had initially approved the content of the draft legislation, but indicated that it did not review the draft which would have been “too technical” for its members to understand, but later indicated that the draft did not properly incorporate its concerns.
The Prime Minister made it clear that she had not received repeated requests for consultation on this topic.
In January 2017, government and the unions WICSU, WITU, ABVO and NAPB in the GOA (now CCSU) signed a covenant in which parties agreed to make changes to the pension law as mentioned in the draft law. Meetings were requested in November regarding “other topics” and another that was scheduled on January 24, one day after the public meeting on the draft law, to discuss agreements made with previous minister of General Affairs. The meeting was, however, rescheduled to after the public meeting which will be honoured next Friday, February 7. Jacobs said she is sure the draft legislation will also be discussed in this meeting.
“As the last in a string of General Affairs Ministers to be dealing with this piece of legislation, I was also part of the Parliament that asked them (former General Affairs Ministers) to go back and consult with the CCSU based on the update I received from the organisation. This was done and it was made clear that the CCSU had agreed in principal to what was actually in the legislation, so from what I gathered in my briefing before going to Parliament, no changes had been made and members of the union had agreed to this,” Jacobs explained.
“To now… hear that they have signed a document to which they did not actually agree, etc. and that statement being made on behalf of CCSU are incorrect are things that I would have to investigate further myself at this moment. I was tasked as minister to bring the draft to the next level as is part of our requirements to move forward. We especially have some serious issues with our budget, if this piece of legislation is not passed,” she made clear.
The Prime Minister said she understands that this will have a negative effect for some, but she assured that “we tried to find ways to ensure that as little persons as possible were negatively affected. Several steps would have to be taken of course to continuously mitigate that.”
She said despite how she felt about the draft legislation and how it would affect some persons, two of the unions that had been tabling most of the concerns are not part of CCSU as they did not meet the criteria to be part of the body. She assured that she will meet with the CCSU “and hopefully we can resolve this as soon as possible.”