The 12.6% polemic

Thirteen labor unions are threatening a general strike, from 7am to 9am, and the MinPres announced this would greatly jeopardize the island’s economic recovery.

About last week, MinPres announced that the salary cut of 12.6% in public and semi-public sector shall continue for at least the first 6 months of 2022.

The famous Landspakket makes the cuts an irrevocable condition and the MinPres announced her hands are tied.

But the Labor Unions think differently. They have been clamoring in an effort to reverse the reductions imposed when Aruba desperately applied for Dutch financial aid, and received it, under conditions, one of them being salary reductions across the board.

At the time, the reductions were ‘sold’ as a gesture of solidarity, the money will be used to finance FASE, the program invented by the Minister of Social Affairs to replace lost income for those without a job.

The FASE idea was bureaucratic, and in the mind of the Minister of Social Affairs helped solidify his image as a savior, but recently because Aruba did not qualify for the 7th liquidity injection, FASE was discontinued, and GOA’s idea of replacing it with another form of hand me down, was nixed.

Bottom line, you know, there is no more money.

If FASE is no longer there, argue the Labor Unions, you must restore our salaries to pre-pandemic levels. They have been cooperative for 20 months, now basta.

We already saw a number of work stoppages and walkouts, earlier this week, from Arubus to DTI and Traimerdia.

Some think it is a dead duck. The condition is still in effect, the Dutch are asking for savings on personnel, and they should all kiss their money goodbye, it will go into GOA’s black hole and will pay for expenses, whatever they are.

Parliamentarian Miguel Mansur wrote this week: I wanted to add a few things regarding the 12,6% cut in salaries. Government back in 2018 presented “Beleidsplan Verlaging Personeelslasten,” a plan to cut personnel costs. Worse than the plan to cut costs in AZV, they never complied and/or lived up to their own cost savings plan. CAft illustrated that personnel costs have only come down AWG 3 million between Q3 2020 and 2021. Truth is, government used the salary cuts to ‘finance’ or ‘illustrate’ a cut in personnel costs that to this day has never been executed. Furthermore, government championed FASE being a wholly Aruban endeavor financed locally and under our control. Now that it is over, government wants the public and semi-public sector employees to continue financing their largesse. That is unfair, especially since 75.2 million was overpaid in loonsubsidie in 2020 and who knows how much in 2021. There is nothing more disingenuous than government suggesting that they are waiting to hear if the Netherlands will approve the next liquidity assistance. They know the answer is NO, why??? Government has not and is not complying with their own cost savings plans, think AZV, BVP etc. Furthermore, CAft was clear that without a budget it is improbable that RMR can approve any more financial assistance. Has MinFIC finished 2022 budget? NO, of course not, because it will either illustrate that she: 1) Does not intend to comply with all the conditions of the Landspakket and/or 2) The game is up and the painful restructuring required to save our finances will come at high social and political costs — not restructuring will have an even higher social cost. Expect more burying their heads in the sand and finger pointing at Holland as opposed to reflecting on their own incompetence. Are the labor unions right in demanding their full salaries? Absolutely, government should get its house in order on the back of its own cost cutting plans and not on the back of public sector employees.

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December 07, 2021
Rona Coster