General strike halts public life for hours; 80% without power
WILLEMSTAD - A general strike supported by all 23 unions on the island had major implications for public life in Curaçao. The strike took effect on Thursday. Schools were closed, many areas were without electricity and most shops had to close their doors.
The general strike stems from a long-running conflict between contract workers of the Isla refinery and contractors for whom they work. Their disagreement led to a strike at the beginning of this month.
The workers demand a salary increase. Prime Minister Dr. Bernhard Whiteman calls the struggle of the workers legitimate and claims that they are working under difficult conditions for little money. He likened it to modern slavery.
But the government says it can do nothing except mediate negotiations between contractors and the unions.
The aim of the general strike is to pressure on those negotiations. There is information now that there might be an agreement between the unions and the contractors. The government has called a national dialogue which finished at 6pm. The unions are not commenting much, but will return to their members for approval. After the approval, the national dialogue will continue at 8pm.