Unionized airport workers challenge salary structures

POSTED: 02/28/13 12:29 PM

St. Maarten – Unionized workers at the Princess Juliana International Airport were startled to find that changes were being effected to their job descriptions and even salary structures earlier this month, without consultation. The workers made known their displeasure and also requested that workers representative, the Windward Island Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (Wicsu/PSU) intervene.

Yesterday Wicsu/PSU general secretary William Reed confirmed that the “very delicate situation” was progressing steadily to the satisfaction of all parties involved. It took a meeting of minds on Monday and Tuesday for the way forward to be determined. The airport management, union, workers and the consulting agency Linkels met in a group session the outcome of which Reed outlined.

“We are busy trying to get matters explained to the workers. There has been a new structure for salaries and new job classifications and evaluation. In that process some changes were made and it still was not clear with the worker. We requested that the company bring back in the consultant to give individual attention to workers. We have also decided to install a complaints committee that independently can verify their complaints before anything from a legal standpoint goes ahead,” Reed said.

Even as all of the mechanisms are being put in place for workers to meet on a one on one basis with the Human Resources Department of the airport, there is still a certain amount of skepticism regarding the situation. There are many misconceptions and workers claim that the consultant may not have even been fully aware of the scope of their responsibilities before placing them in a particular salary category. While some have accepted their salary packages in its present form, others feel that they entitled to more and thus contacted Today to bring attention to the situation.

Reed says that the change process is far from over though.

“We understand that and we are just in process, it isn’t finalized as yet in order for the workers to get what is due to them. If they receive any correspondence they have a right to challenge it but we are not rushing anything,” he stated.

The appeals committee comprises all stakeholders and will be installed on location at the airport. Reed said that employees can make appointments to meet with the committee which will only operate on any given day, when more than 3 requests have come in for the sake of efficiency.

Wicsu recently took over the entire membership of unionized workers on the airport, after the workers sacked Abvo-St. Maarten union for what they described as “failing to represent their interests properly.”



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