A new Agreement on the Terms of Employment was signed on Monday for all school personnel in Saba. The agreement includes a 3.4 per cent increase of gross salaries which goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
Representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science OCW, the Public Entity Saba, the Department of Education, Culture and Science of National Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN/ OCW, Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) and Sacred Heart School were present at the brief signing ceremony at the Government Administration Building in The Bottom.
The agreement includes a 3.4 per cent increase of gross salaries. School staff members will benefit from the fact that the Dutch Government is reducing the employers’ premiums in the Caribbean Netherlands per January 1, 2019. Director-General of the Ministry of OCW Alida Oppers explained that this allowed for a pay rise without increasing the cost of wages.
The measure, firstly designed to bring about a rise in the minimum wage, creates room for an additional wage increase in education. This will bring the total wage increase to 5.1 per cent per January 1, 2019. The signing of the agreement secures this salary increase. “I see this as extra support for the education you stand for, the education you work hard to realize every day”, said Oppers.
Apart from Oppers and her delegation, Commissioner of Education Bruce Zagers, Reynolds Oleana and Elvin Henriquez of RCN/OCW, Chairman of the SCS Board Franklin Wilson, Mark Dodds and Tracy Zagers-Johnson of SCS, and Orlando Mc. Pherson of Sacred Heart School were present at the signing.
In September, parties had already arrived at an agreement for education personnel in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The day after the signing in Saba, a similar agreement was also signed in Statia, to be followed by Bonaire on Thursday. The agreement applies to school personnel in the entire Caribbean Netherlands, both teaching and support staff.
Oppers said there was a “powerful commitment” to securing a high standard of education. “You deliver on this commitment. That is clear to us in The Hague. By jointly formalizing our agreements in the education agenda, we have sealed our collective commitment” she said.
The Director General said that stakeholders would continue to work on improving education in the Caribbean Netherlands, a cooperation that is part of the Second Education Agenda, called “Working together on the next step”, which focuses on a number of themes, most notably how to further improve the quality of education. She said this called for an additional effort on the islands because of their unique situation. “That is why it is a key focus for the Ministry.”
Oppers praised the work that has been done at Saba schools. “The fact that the quality of education has improved so strongly in recent years deserves a major compliment to you. One clear example of this is achieving the basic-quality standards, a result that has been delivered thanks to your efforts.”
Part of the education agenda is to establish clear and favourable terms of employment for teaching staff as a precondition for achieving a high standard of education. “After all, good education starts with professional and dedicated staff,” who “deserve good terms and conditions,” said Oppers.