Protests suspended for talks with Government

WILLEMSTAD–The fifteen trade unions conducting protests in Curaçao during the past week have suspended their actions during 48 hours for talks with the Council of Ministers. The decision was taken after they met with other unions on Sunday to ask their support and give account. The striking group’s spokesperson Errol Cova had earlier blamed local unionism in general for being too passive and not defending the interest of their members plus low-income families sufficiently. The fact that union centrals SSK and CGTC accepted a Government proposal regarding the current demands in the National Dialogue Platform did not sit well with the demonstrators, who felt it did not go far enough. They still want the vehicle insurance hike off the table instead of just put on hold, for the mass layoffs at United Telecommunication Services (UTS) to stop altogether instead of just respecting the Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) and to send the government-owned company’s director Paul de Geus home, as well as continuing with all phased increases of the minimum wage announced by the former PS-led Government. The consultations among unions were also meant to clear the air.

  Following the gathering Cova announced a two-day break in demonstrations to try and reach agreement with Government. Cova said they had spoken to several ministers over the weekend and were assured the intention is to resolve the problems.

  Parties will discuss in particular the minimum wage and UTS. The unions have scheduled a press conference on Tuesday evening to announce the outcome.  

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  In a press conference last Friday Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath had still indicated they were no longer negotiating. “There will be no counter-proposal,” he said

  “We have a responsibility to the community and do not participate in a game to see who has the longest breath. The demands of the trade unions regarding the minimum wage, car insurance and dismissals at UTS will not be honoured by Government.”

  The Prime Minister indicated that there are several questions regarding the actions that had the island in its grip for several days. “We are living with the community in this situation. Within a society and for everyone who is part of it, peace and tranquillity should prevail. And everything Government does must be in everyone’s interest.”

  Rhuggenaath urged the unions to consider the consequences of their actions. “When roads are blocked this can have fatal consequences for someone. An ambulance that could have been on time to save someone’s life won’t be able to get there on time.”

  But the Prime Minister also told the unions his door is always open. “That will always remain our standpoint. We respect the process of dialogue.”

Source: The Daily Herald