PHILIPSBURG: Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson took note of an article that was published by the Board of the Nationaal Algemene Politie Bond (NAPB) Union on December 20th, 2021. An additional statement was sent out by NAPB on December 21st, 2021. The articles came after Minister Richardson announced via social media postings and an issued press statement that the National Decree containing general measures (LBHAM) approving and establishing the Function Book for the Ministry of Justice had been signed by His Excellency Eugene Holiday and the Minister on December 20th. The Minister reiterates that NAPB and all other unions, both individually as in CCSU, as well as all the organizations within the Ministry of Justice were fully engaged in the process of design and approval of the functions and Function Book. A process completed after 11 years since Sint Maarten got its own Justice Ministry.
Minister Richardson would like it to be known that this in no way is a “prank” and that no one is being “punk’d.” The unions have been fighting to establish a Function Book for the departments within the Ministry over several years. NAPB was only interested in the Function Book for the Police department, whilst Minister Richardson insured this was done for all departments recognized in the existing LIOL and is currently taking steps to incorporate other agencies such as the Court of Guardianship and a few others.
Minister Richardson has privately and publicly outlined all actions undertaken in regard to the functions and positions of the workers of the Justice Ministry, has given the NAPB the opportunity to contribute every step of the way, and based on contributions provided, made the appropriate adjustments.
With the support of the government organization, the correct procedural steps were followed and this process carried the inclusion of the Committee of Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) as well as the representatives of the NAPB. The ABVO, NAPB and WICSU-PSU Unions all engaged in countless hours with Minister Richardson’s retained lawyer in order to establish the formation of the Function Book for the departments within the Ministry of Justice. It is clear that Minister Richardson has done what no one has done before and engaged with the unions directly to ensure their participation, in addition to any participation in CCSU context.
On July 28th, 2021, the Unions representatives signed a statement of assent approving the submission of the updated Function Book. This was reflected via an email issued to the CCSU from the Ministry on October 22nd, 2021, whereby Minister Richardson submitted a letter and the updated Function Book to CCSU Chairman Rafael Boasman to which he indicated that CCSU will proceed in accordance with the procedure stipulated in the LMA article 112h.
In accordance with article 112g, the CCSU is obligated to provide an advice to the Minister within 6 weeks. After confirming receipt of the email sent on October 25th, 2021, no advice or response was provided to the Minister of Justice on the updated Function book. The 6 weeks’ timeframe was until December 6th, 2021, and to date no response has been received from the CCSU. Earlier this year when the CCSU reviewed the first draft they formally requested an additional 2 weeks to submit their advice which was granted. However, this was not the case this time around.
In the letter submitted to the CCSU, Minister Richardson stated, “The Function Book presented herewith for confirmation of assent, is the product of the work conducted with the NAPB, ABVO and WICSU in work sessions from July. This Function Book is crafted with due consideration and processing of the advice of the Progress Committee and the Law Enforcement Council, while a thorough legal review was conducted to assert compliance with higher laws. The confirmation of assent issued by the unions is to be included in the resubmission of the Function Book to the Council of Advice. We further approve the submission of this statement of assent to the Council of Advice with the updated Function Book for the Ministry of Justice.”
Apart from the fact that signing the statement of assent contradicts the statements made by NAPB of not approving the function book, there is also a misconception in claiming an “agreement with NAPB”. According to the legislation, these procedures regard not an agreement with the NAPB, but with the CCSU, including NAPB. The NAPB union was included in the process upon the request of Minister Richardson to the CCSU so that their voices could be heard and input taken as they are not a formal union within the CCSU. As such, it is disappointing to see the NAPB exhibit unethical behavior in a bid to tarnish the Minister’s reputation and further stagnate the progress of the employees of the Ministry of Justice. These actions publicly displayed by NAPB cannot be seen in a good light as it is to the disadvantage of the very employees they claim to represent.
Additionally, on November 29th, Minister Richardson’s retained lawyer sent out the minute notes of another meeting had with the ABVO, NAPB and WICSU-PSU unions on this day. The minute notes sent to the unions entailed the discussion, points of agreement and concerns that were voiced during the meeting held in which they were also given the update that the function book was at the Cabinet of His Excellency Governor Holiday.
On November 26th, 2021, Minister Richardson received a letter from NAPB’s lawyer concerning the Bezoldigingsregeling (Salary scales) to which Minister’s retained attorney responded to and reminded NAPB’s lawyer that several emails were issued to address the Function Books, the Rechspositie regelingen and the Bezoldigingsregeling. However, emails sent were met with no response from the president of the NAPB. NAPB were informed that the Bezoldigingsregeling was a part of the exercise as there was an invitation extended to all the unions on this regulation. The need for all unions at the table was of priority as they provided conflicting positions concerning the incorporation of the 16.3% in the salary, given that it appears that this was done during 10-10-10, but on the specific request of KPSM workers, was reversed by January 1, 2011.
The second statement issued referenced issues that are not linked to the Function Book, should it be deemed necessary, the Minister has facts and documents to support her position in any legal proceedings.
“Upon taking office in March 2020, as Minister of Justice, I have made the formation of the long-awaited Function Book my number one priority. Together, with the many stakeholders of this major accomplishment, we did and are doing everything in our power to rectify the issues within the ministry, and not on a case by case basis. I’d like to remind the Board of the NAPB that the establishment of the Function Book would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the Work Group, the Progress Committee, the advices of the Council of Advice and the Law Enforcement Council, the revision and approval by the Council of Ministers and His Excellency Governor Holiday. All these stakeholders have done their part in this process and have all confirmed that the Management of the Ministry of Justice has completed the Function Book for its employees the right way taking all aspects into consideration. As such, I refuse to engage in such a public back and forth with the NAPB beyond this response,” concluded Minister Richardson.