Motion adopted to secure social minimum on islands

The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, on Tuesday, carried a motion requesting the Dutch Government to guarantee a subsistence minimum for people in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, writes The Daily Herald.

The motion was an initiative of Member of Parliament (MP) Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA and was co-signed by MP Wassila Hachchi of the Democratic Party D66 and Carla Dik-Faber of the ChristianUnion (CU).

The motion requests the Dutch Government, in consultation with the social partners and public entities of the Caribbean Netherlands, to “give concrete content” in 2016 to the establishing of a livelihood benchmark, and to relate this benchmark to the legal minimum wages and allowances.

“A majority of the people of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are still living under the subsistence minimum five years after the islands became part of the Netherlands, that is unacceptable,” said Van Laar in a reaction.

According to Van Laar, everyone in the Netherlands, and that includes the Caribbean Netherlands, should earn a wage that is high enough to provide for his or her family. In his opinion, the Dutch Government should guarantee a subsistence minimum for all residents.

“Government now has to enter into a dialogue with the social partners on the islands to determine how they can end poverty,” Van Laar stated. He envisioned that an increase of wages and allowances, a reduction of the cost of living, or a combination of both.

“In this way, everyone should have an income above the social minimum. When you work fulltime you should be able to provide housing, food, transport, education and healthcare for your family; that is a livable wage. The end of poverty is in sight,” said Van Laar.

Van Laar presented his motion during a debate on November 25, with Dutch State Secretary of Labour and Employment Jetta Klijnsma on the law proposal to introduce the children’s allowance (“kinderbijslag”) in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Van Laar withdrew his motion when the law came to a voting on November 26, in order to adapt the wording of the motion and to muster the necessary support of other parties. The motion was resubmitted and adopted by a majority of the Second Chamber on Tuesday.

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