First joint CLA for the health care at the BES islands is now a reality

WILLEMSTAD – On September 27th the five healthcare employers Fundashon Mariadal, Sint Eustatius Health Care Foundation, Sint Eustatius Auxiliary Home Foundation, Mental Health Caribbean and Saba Cares Foundation and the unions, AFBW, ALL for 1 and SUPLUA realized an agreement in principle for a joint collective labor agreement for healthcare at the BES; the CAO ZORG BES. 

The collective labor agreement has a term of three years effective January 1, 2024. Agreements have been made for this collective labor agreement to improve the employment conditions of the employees and strengthen the employee’s vitality. Furthermore, the parties have made agreements to collaborate in a structured and intensive manner on employment conditions and labor market policy at the BES. The collective labor agreement will apply to more than 900 employees.

The new collective labor agreement includes a salary increase totaling 9%, 25 vacation days per year for every employee regardless of age, and an annual vitality budget of USD 850. This budget can be used by the employee to support his or her own vitality, in a manner of his or her own choosing. Furthermore, the regulations, which were different between the five organizations, have been harmonized as much as possible. This means that employees of the healthcare organizations with the same job are rewarded equally. And it means that employment conditions no longer form an obstacle to working at another BES healthcare organization. Thus, the new collective bargaining agreement also contributes to labor mobility and counteracts competition on employment conditions.


In the “Together we are stronger” conference held by parties in St. Maarten in July 2022, it had been expressed that the personnel and labor market issues facing each island can only be addressed effectively together, in BES context. With the concrete agreements now made, which will lead to the introduction of the CAO ZORG BES, a long-cherished wish of the CLA parties has come true. A wish that was already expressed in 2010 and parties have since then diligently worked towards.


According to involved parties, the new joint CLA does not mark an end point but rather a start. “In the CAO ZORG BES, the parties to the CLA have laid down their joint ambition. Equality and suitability are key, including the aim to make Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius an equal part of the Netherlands. The CAO ZORG BES must explicitly contribute to high-quality care for the residents of the BES. Now and in the years to come. This, with personnel who are (and remain) well trained, with a CLA that has good, competitive employment conditions and contributes to the sustainable employability of the employees”.


According to the parties, the ambitions also include appropriate financing. Realizing this is the first concrete step that will be taken by the parties. They will also enter into discussions with healthcare organizations that have indicated that they wish to join this collective labor agreement.

The agreement in principle will now be presented to the parties’ members and respective management team within short.

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