Dutch NOS TV reports today that bosses on Curaçao island in the Caribbean have given in to demands of striking precarious workers at the Isla oil refinery, and other workers in general strike in solidarity with them. All precarious workers together will be paid 900,000 euros in wage supplements.
Also, the government has withdrawn its anti-free speech decree banning assemblies of over four people, another cause of the general strike. The government has also said they are willing to change the third cause of the general strike, a law making higher wages for public sector workers illegal.
The general strike was peaceful; contrary to what the government had said in advance as they threatened Dutch soldiers’ violence against striking workers.
According to [NOS correspondent] Dick Drayer the people were mainly on the side of the trade unions. “I’ve seen that the people are angry because a housekeeping book seems to be more important than the needs of society. People refer to the uprising of May 30, 1969, when a strike at [the] Shell [oil refinery] led to unrest that left two people dead. Things did not go that far this week, but I felt a willingness to go further if necessary.”
On 30 September there will be elections on Curaçao. Some trade unionists are candidates.
See also here.
In this 3 September 2016 video, representatives of various Curaçao trade unions express their support for the fight by the precarious workers working for subcontractors at the Isla oil refinery.
From the Daily Herald in Curaçao today:
Court of Justice agrees with unions
WILLEMSTAD – A judge in Curaçao rejected the petition of contractors’ association AAV to order the SGTK union to end the strike of its members working at the Isla oil refinery that is nearing the end of its third week. The court ruled that the strike was not unlawful in light of the current dispute related to a new Collective Labour Agreement (CLA). The verdict did not concern the general strike by 23 unions gathered at seven locations on Thursday.
See also here.
General strike report: here.
This is a Dutch 1969 video. Violence by police and Dutch Royal Marines killed two workers and injured many more on 30 May 1969 when Shell refinery workers and their supporters demonstrated on Curaçao island in the Caribbean.
Translated from Dutch ANP news agency, an hour ago:
A general strike supported by all trade unions has major implications for public life on Curaçao. The strike started this Thursday. Schools are closed, many neighborhoods are without electricity and part of the shops have closed their doors.
The big strike stems from a long-running conflict between workers on the grounds of the Isla oil refinery and contractors for whom they work. Their disagreement caused a strike in early September already.
The workers demand a salary increase. Prime Minister Ben Whiteman calls the struggle of the workers’ legitimate and claims that they are working under difficult conditions for little money. He compared that to modern slavery. But the government says it can do nothing except mediate in negotiations between the contractors and the unions.
With the general strike the unions are putting pressure on those negotiations.
The general strike is not only in solidarity with the precarious workers at the Isla refinery, but also against policies of Mr Whiteman’s government which violate trade union rights.
In the background, there is, like in 1969, the danger of anti-striking worker violence by Dutch soldiers and police.
This video from Curaçao island in the Caribbean says about itself (translated):
September 1, 2016
Workers of SGTK, the trade union for staff who work through contractors at the Isla oil refinery, today strike for the third day in a row. They say the uncertainty, which has been lasting for years, is more than enough now. “Enough is enough and we will continue as long as we should,” said one of the protesters. Images: Elisa Koek.
Dutch right-wing daily De Telegraaf reported an hour ago that the general strike today on Curaçao means that the teachers of all schools are on strike. Like also the workers in many businesses and government branches are on strike; in solidarity with the precarious workers at the oil refinery, and against government policies which violate trade union rights.
Earlier today, authorities had claimed that all schools would be open as usual.
The Telegraaf news item so far did not report about Dutch soldiers’ anti-strike activity, mentioned as a possibility earlier.
This is a Dutch video on 30 May 1969 on Curaçao island in the Caribbean. Thousands of striking Shell oil refinery workers and their supporters demonstrated then. Police and Dutch Royal Marines attacked them. Two workers were killed; many were injured.
Translated from Dutch NOS TV:
Curaçao asks the Netherlands for military assistance in strike
The government of Curaçao has asked the Dutch Royal Navy to provide “hard-line support” if necessary. The island is in the highest state of readiness now that the trade unions have announced a general strike. Twenty-three unions have called on their members not to go to work.
The Dutch ‘Defense’ department says they will only do something if the government requests it. The Army operates under the authority of the local police. Defense can deploy ninety men of army personnel and sixteen members of the Curaçao militia.
No collective agreement
The unrest in Curaçao started three weeks ago when precarious workers working on the property of the Isla refinery through local contractors, laid down work. They want more money because they have had no collective agreement for three years.
Last week, strikers had a confrontation with police. …
Prime Minister Whiteman called last night on national television for calm. In addition, he pointed to the meeting and demonstration ban imposed on the island for groups of more than four people. That ban was imposed when the unrest broke out early this month. Initially, it was for a week, but it was extended.
Curaçao daily Amigoe of 14 September 2016 reports that the local trade unionists have called for a general strike not only because of solidarity with the refinery precarious workers. Also against a new law, Landsverordening Overheidsgelieerde Entiteiten, which violates trade union rights. And (translated):
Also the various ministerial decisions by Justice Minister Nelson Navarro (Pais political party) introduced recently, according to him, to avoid the disruption of public order, are named by the unions as a reason for the general strike tomorrow. These measures include a ban on assembly for groups of four or more people, near or on roads. The unions say these measures go too far and that they violate workers’ rights to have actions. The local unions have sent a letter to the International Labour Organisation ILO to protest in this case against the conduct of the government. The unions point out that the law violates the fundamental right to mobilize.
See also here.
Translated from Curaçao daily Antilliaans Dagblad, 14 September 2016:
Marbella Felipa, spokesperson of the non affiliated unions BTG, STSK and Seu said at the press conference that the working class is the backbone of society. “It is unacceptable that in society capital is more important than the welfare of the citizens. The workers experience every day that they don’t have equality since they have less rights than others”, said the spokesperson. According to Felipa there now has been reached a point of “this far and not any further.”
Britain: ZERO-HOURS homecare workers are taking the largest ever minimum wage case to court, their union announced yesterday. Public-sector union Unison says some workers are paid as little as £3.85 an hour due to bosses’ refusal to pay for their travel time between visits: here.