SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Richinel Brug expressed his sincere gratitude to all the men and women on Sint Maarten who fall in the categories of the Frontline worker, the First responder and the Essential worker. “When referring to these specific groups of workers, I am talking about the Policemen, the Immigration officers, the Coast Guard officers, the Firemen, but also our security guards. Not to forget our teachers, doctors and nurses in the Healthcare sector, the Ambulance personnel and also our cleaners.”
“There are a number of other employees within our Sint Maarten Labor force that also fall within this very important group of workers who barely get the recognition as such. Some examples are the men and women who are responsible for stocking supermarket shelves and the truckdrivers who distribute these goods. If one day these truckers decide to partake in any form of industrial strike, the whole community, including our tourists would feel this effect immediately.”
“I think it is extremely unfortunate that the men and women who fall in these categories do not get the respect and appreciation they deserve. Hurricane Irma and Covid-19 surely showed all of us who our Frontline workers, our First responders and our Essential workers are.”
Brug gave some key examples to elucidate his point: “our men and women at the Fire Department have been working for years without getting the financial raise they deserve; they have limited to no possibility of career development.
“We currently have our men and women in the Justice Ministry fighting a thirteen-year-old fight to be placed as civil servants and receive their retroactive pay owed to them since 10/10/10. Not to forget our Coast Guard officers who are required to retire from the Coast Guard at age fifty-five, yet have to wait ten more years to collect their AOV pension at age sixty-five.”
Brug explained that these are merely some examples of what our men and women who leave their families behind every single day to protect us go through, while our decisionmakers lack the empathy, understanding and vision to tackle these issues. “The salaries afforded to these ever so important men and women in our community does not factor the risk they take every day when they step out of the comfort of their homes to protect Oh Sweet Sint Maarten Land.”
“On the other hand, we have our teachers who are responsible for molding the minds of our future leaders. We forget that during the Covid-19 Pandemic, our teachers were on Zoom every day instructing our children, while their own children were left to handle their Zoom classes on their own. Our teachers did not have the luxury to properly tend to their own children during the Pandemic, as they were required to focus on ours. Our Education sector is the only sector that punishes its employees for gaining continues knowledge and experience. Every year our teachers are expected to complete a number of trainings. However, our teachers do not receive any type of financial compensation for the knowledge gained. In any other sector one would come into consideration for a raise in salary or a promotion to a higher function. What makes the situation in the field of Education worse, is the fact that the majority of our teachers, when reaching 10/15/20 years in the system, are stuck financially with almost no possibility of growth until they reach pension age.”
Brug concluded by saying; “I am hereby expressing my sincere gratitude to the men and women who put their lives and their priorities on the backburner every single day, because they not only believe in the motto country above self, but they actually practice it. They should be seen as (S)Heroes: as examples for our children and should be allowed to make “the St. Maarten Dream” a reality. It is for this reason that I will be championing higher salaries and better secondary benefits for this important group of workers. In the coming months I will be highlighting the work of these person. I will also make concrete, practical, and legal proposals to improve the lives of the men and women who risk their lives every day to serve and protect us, by putting their own priorities aside.