SMAPP: Cuts in (semi)public remuneration now in legislation violating human rights
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SMAPP: Cuts in (semi)public remuneration now in legislation violating human rights

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With the adoption of the three legislations in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday, February 3rd) the Dutch imposed 12.5% cuts in remunerations of civil servants and semi-public worker’s benefits, as well as the 25% cut in remunerations of elected and appointed public officials, and the introduction of the Jacobs norm and the 130% maximum on remunerations of higher ranking employees in public and semi-public sector, the human rights of the persons who will be affected by the cuts will be legally violated, the Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform (SMAPP) said in a recent statement.

“This is a gross violation of article 81 of the constitution of St Maarten which all citizens, appointed (ministers) as well as elected public officials (parliamentarians) have to respect! Last week we illustrated how International Labor Conventions (the Equal remunerations Convention and the Collective Bargaining Convention) were violated. Contrary to art 2 of the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention C100, and contrary to art 3 of the same ILO Convention which stipulates that remuneration must be based on an objective job classification or evaluation[1], the legislation to cut the remunerations in Aruba, Curacao and St Maarten is not based on an objective job classification evaluation.

“Today we will explain how two United Nation treaties are being violated. The cost-cutting measures imposed by the Kingdom government to get COVID 19 liquidity support, which our Council of Ministers and now also our parliament agreed to implement, as conditions to get the liquidity support tranches, affect the public and semi-public workers regressively in their acquired economic social and cultural rights. This is in violation of art 2.1 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights[2]. This article states:

Article 2.1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures

“As these regressive “solidarity” measures are only imposed on workers in the three Caribbean countries of the Kingdom, this is in violation of the non-discrimination principle anchored in art 2.2. of the same covenant. This article reads as follows:

Article 2.2The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

“This is what we call geopolitical discrimination within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Why we say so? Because these cuts were not imposed on the workers in the Netherlands nor in the BES-islands!

Furthermore this discrimination is an act of social and racial discrimination within the Kingdom, according to art 1 and 2 of the International Convention on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination[3].

Article 1.1. In this Convention, the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Article 2.1. States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races, and, to this end: (a) Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation;

“By not promoting equal remunerations, but by implementing cuts only in Aruba, Curacao and St Maarten, even our local public authorities and public institutions such as the Council of Ministers and Parliament are not complying with this article in the treaty. This violation is worsening the inequality between the remunerations of workers in the European part and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands!!

The mandate from the members of all the seven unions in the WICLU represented clearly instructed the WICLU to get all these discriminatory regressive measures off the table! Therefore, as unions we will address these violations of worker’s rights and human rights with the Ombudsman and internationally with the International labor Organization and the United Nations human rights bodies, now that the government of the Netherlands (as Kingdom government), the government of ST Maarten and the parliament of ST Maarten have joined “Knopsy and Co” in violating the worker’s rights and the human rights, we have no other recourse than to denounce these violations internationally!!”

[1] https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C100

[2] https://www.ohchr.org/EN/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx

[3] https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cerd.aspx

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