Government of Sint Maarten ** Minister Samuel: My door is always open for education dialogue **
GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The disruption in education on Tuesday and Wednesday Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports Hon. Rodolphe Samuel said on Wednesday, is ‘very unfortunate.’
The Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) called its members for meetings during school hours on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Minister Samuel pointed out that he is always open for dialogue where it concerns issues that impact educators and pupils adding that it was very important to keep working together to resolve matters.
Minister Samuel explained on Wednesday morning during the Council of Ministers (COM) press briefing that he received correspondence from WITU of January 11 and 13 about meeting on January 20. The Minister met with the union to discuss a number of issues on January 20, 2023.
“One of the issues was the vacation days per year for teachers. The union said that the Government was using the laws of the former Netherlands Antilles to determine vacation days. I informed the union that this was not the case, and the relevant information was sent to the union.
“Several other points were asked to be discussed such as Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA); COVID-19 and vacation pay increments. I explained to the union that there are two things that it must bear in mind, firstly, there are issues that the WITU and the Minister of Education can work on together and find solutions to them.
“Secondly, there are issues which I cannot resolve on my own as Minister of Education, as it impacts other civil servants and therefore, there are other stakeholders that have to be involved such as the CCSU – civil servants union -, COM and other unions. I cannot therefore go and have bilateral discussions only with the WITU,” Minister Samuel explained on Wednesday.
Minister Rodolphe Samuel added that he has sent a letter to the Secretariat of the COM to plan a meeting with WITU to discuss issues which also include other ministerial portfolio’s beyond the ministry of education.
The WITU in the January 20 meeting with the Minister of Education mentioned that there were issues at two schools. “In that meeting I told the WITU to provide me the information about each school so we can discuss together what needs to be done, but to-date I have not received that information that was promised by the WITU.”
Last year the Minister Samuel met with stakeholders regarding the function book. This meeting was organized by the cabinet of the Minister of Education.
“During that meeting I explained a three phased process related to the function book. The first phase would entail approving the function book as is. The second phase would be making corrections where necessary; and the third phase entailed discussing with other stakeholders regarding renumerations and functions for teachers and staff as times have changed.
“I have been dialoguing with the union about the issues, but today we see two-days of disruptions in education. There is no deadlock, and therefore no reason for a strike. We have been in discussions, and I look forward to continuing with the dialogue in addressing whatever issues the union may have,” Minister of Education Hon. Rodolphe Samuel concluded.
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