PHILIPSBURG–The unions representing members of the disciplined services “insisted” on Wednesday that Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever “show up” to Parliament in two weeks to answer questions on pending matters affecting their members.
Representatives of the unions made the firm statement during their closing remarks at a meeting of Parliament’s Justice Committee on Wednesday. The meeting was adjourned and the union representatives are expected to return in two weeks to answer questions they received. Many of the questions posed were more appropriate for the minister and not the unions.
“We are insisting that the Minister of Justice be present in the next two weeks to answer [questions on – Ed.] the status of the LBHAM [national ordinance] and the covenant. It is far surpassed the time now. The women and men of the Police Force require answers and deserve what is owed to them,” Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) President Sophia Rismay-Peterson said.
Police union NAPB President Rogerrel Mauricia told Members of Parliament (MPs) in his opening remarks that former Justice Minister Edson Kirindongo, his cabinet, unions and the GOA (now called Committee of Civil Servants Unions CCSU) had come up with a covenant, which was approved by Kirindongo, the GOA and the unions on August 26, 2016.
He said the covenant is a guarantee of continuity in the process for the placement of Police Force personnel in St. Maarten. The covenant package (national ordinance LBHAN) consists of the rechtspositie, function book and a formation plan for a placement committee.
The national ordinance was drafted and is to be signed by the governor, Justice Minister and Prime Minister. The national ordinance dates back to October 10, 2010, and once it has been signed by the relevant parties, it can be executed and a 16.3 per cent allowance can then be incorporated into the salaries of workers.
The consequences of the national ordinance not being signed are detrimental to workers and their families and, according to Mauricia, it will have an effect on pensioners, on promotions of Police Force personnel and the placement of workers, and will also affect retroactive payment.
“The saddest part is that it will also affect the families of colleagues who passed away and also … Immigration administrative workers at the Police Force,” Mauricia said.
He said the unions have been “waiting patiently” for these matters to be dealt with. The last meeting the unions had with De Weever was in November last year. “After that we tried numerous times to continue our meetings, but [they] were in vain,” Mauricia said.
He said a letter had been sent to the minister on May 8 seeking an update on pending matters so that the unions can update their members, who are asking for information.
“For too long we cannot update [our members] on their concerns. We want to update them, but we are out of words,” he said.
The unions received a response on May 9 informing them that a letter had been sent to the GOA (CCSU) chairperson and that the cabinet would be contacting all unions to provide an update. He said no date had been given.
Members of the unions are not happy with the snail’s pace at which things are happening.
“If you turn your face to the public, what you see is members who have been patiently waiting and I don’t think that you will see any happy faces today,” Mauricia said. He said the unions want issues addressed now and not a year or two from now.
MPs posed a range of questions during the meeting and the unions said two weeks were needed to provide answers. “In two weeks, we will come back and we demand that the minister is there,” Mauricia said.