photo: Live 99

KRALENDIJK – Several hundred people showed up on the Wilhelmina Square on Bonaire Monday, acting on the call from trade union Usibo to strike because of the planned pension reduction. The strike leaders said further action is being considered, where possibly the air traffic, tourism and other sectors in the economy will suffer.

Commissioner Nina den Heyer said she got “goose bumps” observing the success of the strike. Director of the union Usibo also expressed his satisfaction. “This is the first time there is such immense unity on Bonaire”, was one of the remarks from protesters on the square.

Most schools on Bonaire were closed on Monday. Only exam students attended school as scheduled. Many civil servants did not show up to work.

Protesters gathered at Wilhelmina Square. Foto: Live 99

Power cuts
Residents who were not striking were not really inconvenienced seeing that the stores were open as standard. That will possibly change, if other sectors in the economy are affected by this strike. Commissioner Den Heyer said she hopes that the situation does not escalate. The situation may get worse if employees of the utility company WEB join the strike, resulting in power cuts.

In an interview on radiostation Bon FM, trade unionist Charles Mercelina said there are three ways to resolve the issues with PCN: a grave discount, premium increase or a single extra employer contribution. “The latter gives us space, because we would not want a discount and the premiums that are already high.”

Against the state
Mercelina pointed out that the strike is not directed at the Dutch. “We protest against the state, not the people. The state must provide additional funds.” The unions are deciding day by day how to proceed. They continue to hope for positive feedback from the Netherlands, but are willing to prolong the strike.