WITU membership in a meeting on February 9.
~ Says there’s no political agenda ~
PHILIPSBURG--Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) submitted a letter to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and the Council of Ministers on Friday, February 10, outlining several areas of concern and the union’s expectations, according to a WITU press release issued on Monday.
In the letter, WITU said, “The Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) board attended a meeting with you and the Ministers of ECYS [Education, Culture, Youth and Sport – Ed.], TEATT [Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication] and Finance on Wednesday, February 8. Clarity was provided by WITU and your person, regarding the official presence of the Committee for Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) Chairman R. Boasman, and CCSU Secretary General S. Martis-Laville.”
WITU brought forth several concerns about communication, Division Public Education (DPE) Summer School 2022, the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), indexation, vacation allowance, vacation schedules, increments and salary scales. Another concern was the pension age of 67 about which WITU said, “Assurance was given by you that this is not being considered by government.
The letter further mentioned that prior to the start of the meeting WITU had formally submitted a 10-page document outlining the grievances in Public Education. “This letter was on request of the Minister of ECYS Rodolphe Samuel as an outcome of the meeting of January 20.”
WITU outlined its expectations. All communication sent from the Government of St. Maarten should be received by all employees in the ECYS Ministry, especially Public Education staff. All presentations and discussions regarding civil servants will be shared and handled among all unions.
Additionally, the union wants an assessment of the salary scales from the wages and salaries department, as well as an assessment of teachers in the category of A, B, C, and completion of the processes to ensure all employees of the DPE Summer School 2022 to receive their second payment before or by the end of April.
The COLA, function book, increasing the vacation allowance, and salary scales will be handled through the CCSU. Vacation allowance for 2022/2023 and onward will be paid as expected by June of each year.
Vacation schedule 2022/2023 will be discussed within the Council of Ministers and consideration will be given for a change of the start date for the school year 2023/2024.
All Public Education employees will receive their salary increment by the end of August 2023.
WITU President Stuart Johnson, via the WITU letter, said, “In closing, the unanimous decision of the WITU membership, is if the key deadlines as agreed in the meeting with you and other ministers dated February 8 are not adhered to by Government, WITU will immediately convene a general membership meeting.”
In the release Johnson also said, “We want to see a genuine effort to truly ensure one of our nation’s greatest assets, teachers and staff in education, are properly taken care of.”
He minced no words in expressing that WITU is not being political: “I understand with our country seemingly heading into yet another election, I expect some level of rhetoric, but I had hoped that there would be some improvements to the level of discourse and the rhetoric would be less especially from a Member of Parliament.”
Johnson said WITU has taken note of the media reports that reconstruction works at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School in Dutch Quarter will commence soon.
“We are delighted to see further attention will soon take place at the school, as WITU brought the concerns forward in March for the wellbeing of the staff and students. We will surely closely monitor the reconstruction works at the school, as a healthy working environment for staff and students should be a priority,” Johnson concluded.