SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Thursday said he is pleased that the Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion has followed his advice and finally realized that he has a duty to workers and has found a way to pay them something from the outstanding vacation allowance.
“But if you are going to break your own law, then I think you should pay the workers 100% of what is owed to them or repeal these abusive laws which the Minister has used in a discriminating manner.”
MP Emmanuel stressed that the Minister should not further discriminate and pay government workers the same way he did, illegally, for others who left government service. He explained that the government revoked the legal basis for the granting of vacation pay and other benefits.
The only way to legally grant vacation pay, is to repeal the law and explain what steps are being taken to have this done. “I have been calling on government to do this for months. So now he will proceed to pay vacation pay in contravention to the same law that he and the Prime Minister spear-headed,” MP Emmanuel said.
In February 2022 MP Emmanuel said that he had been made aware that the government has paid out vacation pay to some civil servants, in direct contravention of the law (national ordinance) to cut the employment benefits and income of civil servants, (semi) public sector workers.
Calling it “discriminatory, unfair and clearly illegal” the MP explained that the vacation pay was paid out to persons who left government service, while those who are currently in government service are not receiving anything “These abusive laws were passed and went into effect. This is an illegal pick-and-choose practice that both the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance are accountable for and must explain,” the MP said.
Despite the Minister of Finance statement in Parliament that he was made aware of the situation and would look into it, to date neither he nor the Prime Minister has ever addressed or clarified the issue.
He continued: “This is why I had urged the Minister to pay workers something, anything that can help our people in difficult times. If you are going to act against the law and selectively pay-out some people, supporters and cronies their vacation pay, then you should keep that same energy and pay out vacation pay to all workers. Now that the Minister again doesn’t seem to care about his law, he might as well pay out 100%.”
The MP re-iterated that he has pointed out the abuse of the income cutting laws from day one. The laws he said fully tramples on worker’s rights and has been made worse by the Minister’s discriminating actions to pay those leaving government service, neglecting those who are actually in service working and sacrificing daily.
“The laws are against ILO conventions (International Labour Organizations), they are against the LMA in most cases, and they are against basic human rights laws. The laws are abusive, immoral and a cop-out by a clue-less government who did not standup against the Dutch and their demands which were not even placed on the people in the Netherlands. And at this point, the laws are definitely not based on a foundation of solidarity. So while I am relieved that the Minister finally has found some courage, he needs to continue his trend of acting in contravention of these laws and pay 100%. Pay the people everything you owe them,” the MP said.
MP Emmanuel also chided Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs for her statement that she will discuss the 12.5% on workers income and benefits cut with State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen, but maintain the cuts for MPs and Ministers. “Here again we have the Prime Minister and her a-typical, scared approach with the Dutch.
“Tell the State Secretary that your government and its support in Parliament will repeal abusive laws that are hurting all of your people and that go against your laws. Stop trying to sound like a martyr as if you are maintaining something that helps the country. The CFT have already shown, twice, that the cuts have led to no significant savings for government. Government in fact never stopped hiring and is currently hiring many more people which will wipe out any miniscule savings. So what exactly is the point? The Prime Minister need to stop running from her own shadow and a terrible decision her government made and stop the bleeding of our people in hard economic times with no relief in sight. The Dutch for sure, have placed no such burdens on their people,” the MP concluded.