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Prime Minister Meets with Union on Issues with Teachers.

~Discussions still on-going~

sillyjacobs13022022PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten—Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs Ms. Silveria Jacobs invited the Windward Island Teachers Union (WITU) to meet with the Ministers of Education Culture Youth and Sport (ECYS); Finance; and Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic, Telecommunication (TEATT). The meeting with the relevant Ministers was approved for 3:00 pm, yesterday, Wednesday, February 8, and was also attended by the Committee for Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) Chairman Boasman and Secretary General Suenah Laville Martes, as observers.

Though Prime Minister Jacobs initially requested the WITU to postpone further meetings with members until their grievances had been heard, the membership meetings continued as planned. The union further informed that a meeting is scheduled for Thursday with members to share the information received thus far in the meeting held Wednesday with Ministers. “It is unfortunate for all concerned that the opportunity for dialogue did not take place before actions were determined to be necessary. The Government aims to address the valid concerns of teachers. I look forward to us finding solutions for these and other challenges together,” Prime Minister Jacobs stated.

Prime Minister Jacobs, in her opening statements, clarified the limitations of the temporary law lifted as of December 31, 2022. The WITU brought forth concerns about communication, COLA, indexation, vacation allowance, vacation schedules, increments, and salary scales. Other, more specific, challenges in education were officially submitted in writing to Minister of ECYS Samuel as was requested in the last meeting held on January 20. Much clarity was provided, and certain information being sought from the Government will be provided to the unions within a week’s time.

The Prime Minister, being an educator, expressed her understanding of the plight of teachers and the continued challenges they face during these challenging times. All efforts will be made to continue to dialogue towards workable solutions in the short, medium, and long term in the interest of the teachers who play a key role in the preparation of our youth.

“Managing expectations will be key, as several concerns will require legislative changes which will cost some time, as consultations must take place at the CCSU level involving all members. We ask for patience and understanding as we go through this process to bring sustained change,” Prime Minister Jacobs stated, with the hopes that the updates and clarification provided to the WITU would lead to teachers returning to classrooms.

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