MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten.
~ ‘Govt. playing Russian roulette with people’s livelihoods’ ~
PHILIPSBURG--Independent member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten has sent an urgent letter to Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Arthur Lambriex outlining her concerns about the ongoing issues at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
She cited, among other things, delays and cost overruns in the reconstruction of the terminal building, frequent changes of chief financial officers (CFOs) and conflicts between staff and the chief executive officer (CEO) resulting in personnel unrest, protests and dissatisfied employees, some of whom have resigned due the highly toxic working environment.
But most importantly, Heyliger-Marten pointed to a number of questionable terminations of long-standing employees and allegations of personal victimisation by the CEO.
“It is an established fact that since the tenure of the current CEO of PJIAE [PJIA operating company – Ed.] started, our national airport and gateway has been experiencing a number of serious and persistent problems,” Heyliger-Marten said in a press release on Wednesday.
“From all these problems at the airport and other information that has regularly reached me since the current CEO took up his post, it is clear that he has created and fosters a very toxic working environment. From what I have gathered, PJIAE’s CEO demoralises, victimises and terminates employees who don’t see everything his way and dare to speak their opinion for the benefit of the company. This is, of course, unacceptable and needs to end,” according to Heyliger-Marten.
“Employees form the backbone and are the biggest asset of any organisation. They should be treated with care and respect and feel safe in their working environment. The CEO of PJIA should understand that leadership is not about being in charge, which seems to be his sole motto. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”
In her letter to the minister, Heyliger-Marten posed 13 questions on a number of topics, including information on the number of dismissals and resignations of employees since the start of the current CEO’s tenure, the status of the service agreement with the current CEO and whether it will be extended or not, alleged conflicts of interest of a member of the Supervisory Board of the airport holding company PJIAH, and the recruitment process of the CFOs and recently appointed chief operating officer (COO).
“I look forward to Parliament receiving answers to these and other questions as soon as possible, and for the minister to urgently look into this matter. Parliament cannot allow one person to jeopardise the livelihoods of tens of employees by victimising them. If nothing is done urgently, this so-called ‘hands-off approach’ which government applies when it’s convenient will ultimately lead to the collapse of one of the people of St. Maarten’s two main assets, our national airport,” Heyliger-Marten said.