ST. EUSTATIUS–Acting Island Governor of St. Eustatius Julian Woodley has instructed Island Secretary Koert Kerkhoff, in a letter dated Thursday, August 10, not to appear in any Government buildings to perform work.
According to the Acting Island Governor, he has also learned through local media that Kerkhoff is working from Government’s offices. Kerkhoff stated earlier this week that he was working from the Commissioner’s office.
The Acting Island Governor has pointed out to Kerkhoff that on August 1, 2017, he had already informed him he may no longer perform work for the Public Entity of St. Eustatius. The position of Acting Island Secretary is now fulfilled by Malvern Dijkshoorn.
Kerkhoff’s one-year labour contract with the Island Government as Island Secretary expired as per August 1, 2017. Kerkhoff claimed that his contract had been renewed by the Executive Council, but Woodley stated earlier that the renewal of Kerkhoff’s contract had not been done according to the rules.
Former Island Secretary of St. Eustatius and current Secretary of Dutch Government Representative Gilbert Isabella Jan Helmond explained that based on the laws ruling the Public Entities Bonaire, Saba and Statia WolBES the Kingdom Representative has the approval authority for the appointment, promotion, suspension and dismissal of civil servants of the Public Entities. This also applies to the appointment, promotion, suspension and dismissal of the Registrar and the Island Secretary.
This means that the Kingdom Representative examines whether the decision complies procedurally with the applicable laws and regulations. In Kerkhoff’s case, no approval of the renewal of his contract was given.
A Plan of Action for Statia was established by Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on September 1, 2015. In the framework of the implementation of the Plan of Approach, there were, among others, agreements made with the Executive Council regarding the (interim) filling-in of a number of key positions and the regular fulfilment after the interim-period. This includes the position of the Island Secretary.
No official approval of Kerkhoff’s reappointment was given by the Dutch Government Representative because the proper procedures were not followed, such as reporting a vacancy for the position and the placement of advertisements to recruit candidates for the position. It was also noted that Kerkhoff had personally signed the official document sanctioning his reappointment, which is not allowed.
The Police escorted Kerkhoff out of his regular workplace with the Island Government on Tuesday, August 1. Commissioners Derrick Simmons and Charles Woodley and leader of coalition partner Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Island Councilman Clyde van Putten took to the local radio station to complain bitterly about the way “their” Island Secretary had been handled.