“No extra day Emancipation Day 2017”?

“No extra day Emancipation Day 2017”?

On Wednesday, January 18th 2017, civil servants received a rude awakening when Government announced that “no extra day for Emancipation Day” would be granted this year. According to the press release, “Emancipation Day is celebrated annually on July 1st unless that day falls on a Sunday, in which case Emancipation Day is celebrated on the first next business day”. (source: http://www.sintmaartengov.org/…/Emancipation-Day-Public-Hol…)

Furthermore, a quick glance at the 2017 Public Holiday Schedule reveals that two holidays of significant cultural & historical importance to St. Martin people, namely Emancipation Day (Saturday July 1st 2017) and St. Martin’s Day (Saturday November 11th 2017), will fall on a Saturday. With that being said, are we to understand that there will be no extra day for St. Martin’s Day 2017 also?

Besides that, what would civil servants gain if Government maintains its current position to deny the extra day off on the first working day thereafter? In essence, it undoubtedly translates into two lost holidays for civil servants due to Emancipation Day and St. Martin’s Day falling on a Saturday.

Globally, various national holidays have been fixed to the first or last Monday of the month, regardless if the actual date of the Public Holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. From a local perspective, one example that quickly comes to mind is Constitution Day.

Constitution Day, initially observed in 2015, is fixed to the first Monday of October regardless of the actual day that the 10th falls on. For example, Monday October 12th 2015, Monday October 10th 2016, Monday October 9th 2017, Monday October 8th 2018.(source:http://www.sintmaartengov.org/…/Public-Holiday-Schedule.aspx)

It is important to note that October 10th, 2015 fell on a Saturday and was observed on the next working day. (i.e. Monday October 12th 2015) To be fair, last year’s Carnival Day a Saturday. Consequently, the Council of Ministers, in its collective wisdom, granted civil servants an extra day off on Tuesday, May 3rd 2016.

In contrast, no extra day was granted for Christmas Day since it fell on Saturday, December 25th, 2016. Instead, Boxing Day was observed on Monday, December 27th, 2016. The aforementioned observation sought to illustrate that the National Ordinance in question is not etched in stone.

Ultimately, the transference of a holiday to the next working day squarely with Government. With that being said, the aforementioned observations point to the need to possibly amend Article 23 of the National Ordinance to “Public holidays that fall on a Saturday and or Sunday is celebrated and or observed on the following Monday or the first next business day”.

Perhaps all that is required is some imagination, social dialogue among the relevant stakeholders, and the political will to amend the aforementioned Article 23 of the National Ordinance. In any case, to deny civil servants two full days simply because Emancipation Day and St. Martin’s Day are on a Saturday is disappointing, shortsighted and undesirable.

Riegnald “Bakari” Arrindell
General Secretary

Speak Your Mind