PHILIPSBURG:— Some forty fire fighters have retained the services Mariflex Attorneys and Consultants as they prepare to take the government of St. Maarten to court in order to obtain their promotions and benefits.
Reliable information reaching SMN News states that several fire fighters that have been working since 2006 are not getting their promotions and benefits even though they did the courses and wrote the necessary examinations and passed them. According to the firefighters that spoke to SMN News on the condition of anonymity said that this situation has been going on for years, and that even basic procedures are not being followed.
The fire fighters said that based on the rules and regulations laid down in the functieboek (function book) each fire fighter has to get at least six months training before they are sent to work in the field. Besides that the fire fighters have to take courses and write the necessary examinations (both theory and practical) before they get their positions. The fire fighters said that some of them got one month training and was sent to work in the field and training courses were not provided even though there are monies set aside for these courses.
Those fire fighters that have been working since 2006 and earlier said based on how the system is set up after they write their exams they have to be working in the field for one year before they get their first stripe and three years for the second stripe. They said even though some of them fought and get to do the courses and wrote the exams, they have not gotten their positions neither benefits. They also said that even though the persons that were brought in to give the courses and they wrote the exams they are not given any diploma.
They said persons are brought in from the Netherlands once in a while to give the courses and exams but no diploma is handed out. “We are told we have to travel to the Netherlands for the diplomas if we need them.” Further to that they said that even though they are performing the functions practically whenever they write the examinations they are told they have to wait another two years before they can be given their positions. The angry fire fighters said that what they are supposed to accomplish in three years is taking five or more years and yet they have to approach the courts in order to get what is due to them
They said just recently their union met with their legal representatives who sent a letter to the secretary general of General Affairs on the issue and they are now working on filing the court case in order to get what is due to them. The fire fighters said that that some of them have been working in the field from 2006 to 2011 and to date they cannot get their promotions and or benefits even though they completed the courses and passed them. They said that when it comes to training courses the funcieboek is not followed but when it comes to their promotions and or benefits then they are referred to the funcieboek.
The fire fighters laid the blame squarely in the former fire Chief Winston Solomon whom they said is the one that put his own rules and regulations in place while the current Chief is following the same rules and taking orders from his predecessor through the back door. “Can you imagine Solomon is no longer there but the fire department has to still grant him and his friend’s favors through the back door, but the hard working men and women cannot get what is rightfully due to them. Asked why they waited so long to take action and if the actions they are taking now is political the fire fighters said they send letters a year ago to the Secretary General of General Affairs and most recently another one. “We are not interested in politics, we don’t care who is Prime Minister and who is not, what we know is the former fire chief was closely affiliated with certain politicians and he did certain things to keep cost down while punishing the men and women that are working hard.”
Source: St. Martin News Network EXCLUSIVE: Fire fighters plans to take government to court for promotions and benefits.