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DH | Aruba defies The Hague, goes ahead to repay 5%

Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes.

THE HAGUE–Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes said on Wednesday that she was unable to convince Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen that the Aruba government was taking the rightful step to repay employees in the (semi) public sector five per cent late July.

Wever-Croes said in a press statement that even though the meeting with Van Huffelen in The Hague yielded no successful results, the Aruba government would still go ahead and give civil servants and employees in the semi-public sector 5% back of the 12.6% labour conditions cut which has been in effect since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister travelled to the Netherlands on Tuesday following a decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers RMR last Friday not to give the go-ahead for the 5% repayment, because it was felt that more information was needed.

The meeting between Wever-Croes and Van Huffelen took place on Wednesday, in which the prime minister tried to convince the state secretary to allow the repayment at the end of July, as the RMR had given its consent in May to cease the 12.6% labour conditions cut under certain conditions. According to Wever-Croes, Aruba complied with all conditions.

“I tried everything to convince the state secretary, but unfortunately, I was unable to. I consulted with the Council of Ministers in Aruba immediately after the meeting. The Council of Ministers agreed that postponing the repayment is not an option. The situation in Aruba is very difficultw and the cost of living has gone up a lot,” said Wever-Croes.

The prime minister pointed out that since May 1, 2020, the employees in the (semi) public sector have been handing in part of their labour benefits and that Aruba has been compliant. “The laws and regulations are there and the abuse cannot go on. It is certainly not justified to have the almost 5,000 mothers and fathers with families who work for government at foundations and government-owned companies, continue to suffer,” she said.

She said the Netherlands did not want the Aruba Parliament to change the law proposal to standardise the top incomes in the (semi) public sector, but she pointed out that forcing this through was against the principle of a parliamentary democracy.

Wever-Croes said it was also important to keep proportionality in mind: Aruba already has a maximum salary, the so-called Wever-Croes norm, which entails that no director or top civil servant may earn more than 130% of the salary of the prime minister, namely 329,000 Aruban florins per year. She remarked that a mere seven persons earned above the maximum norm and that they had five years to reduce their salary to the maximum norm.

“The Council of Ministers has decided to go ahead and pay out the 5% at the end of this month. With this, we hope to help with the high cost of living. Government carries its responsibility and will remain at the table with the Netherlands to get out of this impasse,” said Wever-Croes, who thanked the labour unions for the fight on behalf of their members and the (semi) government employees for their sacrifice and solidarity.

Bron: Daily Herald

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