January 22, 2021 -In a WICLU meeting held on Sunday January 17th, 2021 at the WIFOL Building the Presidents of the unions NAPB, ABVO-SXM, WIHCUA, WIFOL /ASEWI and WITU at the Agenda Point Carnival 2021 expressed their concerns related to the fact that the Council of Ministers has approved and given the greenlight for Carnival 2021 to be held.
The concerns expressed were not only because this decision was taken without consultation or a dialogue with the unions, but the analysis was made based on among others the reality that we are living in with the COVID-19 pandemic and the threats of new viruses.
As unions this decision was viewed as irresponsible and not taken into account the risk factors that the frontline workers, all workers and the whole population of Sint Maarten (Dutch and French) will be exposed to.
It goes without saying that the unions can't remain silent on this issue since as unions the health and safety of the population and the workers are our concerns.
During this pandemic that has affected the whole world, our leaders should act in consultation with tri-partite committees, before making such decisions that can have far reaching consequences. What one might seem to look at this event as an economic boost for the island, which will have a higher cost on the health and take a toll on rise of cases, whether asymptomatic or COVID-19 active.
Therefore, as unions in the WICLU, we are calling on the Minister of VSA and the Council of Ministers on its whole to review and reverse this decision.
The whole Carnival (so not only the parades) cannot happen without the frontline workers and in our view as unions the pressure, risk and stress on these workers will also affect the day to day operation of all departments.
Even to the schools will be affected as have been the case since the reopening of the school year with the face to face attendance. A number of schools were forced to continue online classes and quarantine staff members and students after the reopening took place.
The questions are:
1. Based on the set norms of prohibiting large gathering shouldn't Carnival fall into that same category?
2. Are we prepared or do we have the means to handle the health issue and consequences of this?
3. What are the financial benefits and for who?(since for years this event was heavily financial supported by government;- all of a sudden the Carnival Community can host this event on its own?
4. "Who yo'allfoh?" Is it so that all at once the health and safety of the people and their families doesn't matter?
In closing I would like to state that the general consensus at this meeting was to request the postponement of Carnival 2021 and a letter will be going to the Council of Ministers forcefully requesting this.
This is not the time for this SintMaarten !
Note: The Presidents of SMCU and WICSU-PSU were absent, but they will find themselves in agreement with this statement also.