photo: Saba Life Center

THE BOTTOM – “Salaries from Dutch Government continues to increase, however, myself as a pensioner receiving a very minimum pension, I’m struggling to make ends meet. It’s very difficult”, says pensioner Syliva Woods.

Due to an economic surplus in the Netherlands, all Central Government civil servants in the Caribbean Netherlands will benefit with an increase in salary. A new Collective Labor Agreement, negotiated with the director of Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN) and trade unions, signed to increase the Central Government public servants’ salary by 3.75 percent.

This will be for a period of three years with also a gradual percentage end-of-year bonus of 7 percent in 2020, instead of the current nominal end-of-year bonus of 1,250 dollar. The Central Government civil servants will benefit with an increase to 1,500 dollar, which is the minimum amount, compared with the current year-end bonus.

“Increase in the salary is good for them however, there is not much value given to us pensioners. An increase in pension is needed to cover some of our expenses, at least”, expressed pensioner Salamon Simmons.

High standard of living
Pensioner and sanitation worker for seventeen years, Wycliffe Rawlins, agrees, “We barely getting anything. Saba has a high standard of living and it makes me feel uncomfortable. My pension is no more than 200 dollar per month. That can’t help cover my rent or electricity. Up to this day, no government official has visited me to ensure that I live at ease.”

The AOW is a basic pension for people who have reached the age of 65. Elderly people must apply for their pension six months before the AOW age. AOW amounts depends on where the person lives, the number of year that they have worked and if they live alone or with someone. The full AOW amount for Saba is currently at 766 dollar. However, pensioners who live alone in the Netherlands receive 944,67 dollar. A full AOW pension is honored, if the elderly person has always been insured in the 50 years before their AOW age.

Pension age
The AOW pension age is being gradually increased to 66 in 2018 and 67 in 2021. In 2022, it will be raised to 67 and 3 months.