WILLEMSTAD—Thursday’s the general strike of labour unions in Curaçao ended in the evening after agreement was reached during an urgent meeting between government and the social partners.
The island’s employers represented by business association VBC pledged 1.8 million Antillean guilders to bridge the remaining gap between contractors’ association AAV and the SGTK union representing their workers at the Isla oil refinery. Parties had already agreed on a two-year Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) with annual pay raises of 6 and 3 per cent, but the SGTK wanted a lump sum of NAf 3,000 per person for the last two years without a new CLA, while AAV would give only NAf 500.
Exactly how the private sector came up with the money to cover the balance was not immediately clear, but the funds were to be transferred to the union’s lawyer today, Friday. SGTK was to hold a general meeting this afternoon on arranging the payments.
Earlier a judge had rejected the petition by AAV to order the SGTK union to end the strike of its members that lasted almost three weeks. The court ruled that the strike was not unlawful in light of the dispute related to the CLA.
The verdict did not concern the general strike by 23 unions gathered at seven locations.
There was also another injunction filed by Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP) against civil servant union ABVO asking to forbid a strike because CAP was not a party in any labour conflict. However, ABVO said it had not called its members at the airport to join the strike or at least not intended to so do and CAP was operating normally, so the judge dismissed the case
A third summary proceeding of the unions against the island-wide ban by Justice Minister Nelson Navarro on crowds with the goal to demonstrate was held pending a meeting called by government, which led to an agreement and ended the strike. The public order decree was subsequently withdrawn.
Navarro, Prime Minister Ben Whiteman, Finance Minister Jose Jardim and Labour Minister Ruthmilda Larmonie-Cecilia represented government during the meeting at Kura Hulanda that led to a solution.
In addition to the SGTK issue and Navarro’s public order decree, the general strike was aimed at a law unanimously passed by Parliament to regulate all government-owned companies, foundations and other entities, whereby the freedom to negotiate employment conditions with the unions would allegedly be restricted.
The PS/PAIS/PAR/PNP/Sulvaran coalition leaders in Parliament held a press conference during which they announced that the national ordinance not yet signed into law should be discussed with experts of the unions and re-evaluated if necessary. They asked the Council of Ministers to work in that direction.
During the meeting a newer version of the draft ordinance with several modifications was presented and parties agreed to have a dialogue on the matter and address the concerns before it is signed into law.
Source: The Daily Herald