PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Justice Anna Richardson says she refuses to further engage in “deceitful games” played by police union NAPB St. Maarten.
Richardson took note of an article that was published by the Board of the NAPB on December 20, and an additional statement release by the union on December 21.
The articles came after Minister Richardson announced via social media postings and an issued press statement that the National Decree containing general measures LB-HAM approving and establishing the function book for the Ministry of Justice had been signed by His Excellency Eugene Holiday, and the minister on December 20.
In a press release on Thursday, the minister stated that NAPB and all other unions, both individually as in CCSU, as well as all the organisations 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 St. Maarten got its own Justice Ministry,” said the release.
“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 recognised in the existing LIOL, and is currently taking steps to incorporate other agencies such as the Court of Guardianship and a few others,” said the release.
Richardson said she 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 organisation, 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 release stated.
“The ABVO, NAPB and WICSU/PSU [The Windward Islands Civil Servants’ Union/Private Sector Union – Ed.] unions all engaged in countless hours with Richardson’s retained lawyer in order to establish the formation of the Function Book for the departments within the Ministry of Justice,” said the release. “It is clear that 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 28, the union representatives signed a statement of assent approving the submission of the updated Function Book. This was reflected via an email issued to CCSU from the ministry on October 22, whereby 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 National Ordinance substantive civil servants’ law LMA, article 112h.
In accordance with article 112g, the CCSU is obligated to provide an advice to the minister within six weeks. “After confirming receipt of the email sent on October 25, no advice or response was provided to the minister on the updated function book. The six weeks’ timeframe was until December 6, and to date no response has been received from CCSU. Earlier this year, when CCSU reviewed the first draft, they formally requested an additional two weeks to submit their advice which was granted. However, this was not the case this time around,” said the release.
In the letter submitted to CCSU, 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.”
The minister said that 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 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 behaviour 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,” said the release.
Additionally, on November 29, 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 26, Minister Richardson received a letter from NAPB’s lawyer concerning the 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 Rechtspositie regelingen (legal position regulations) and the Bezoldigingsregeling (remuneration scheme). However, emails sent were met with no response from the president of the NAPB.
According to the release, NAPB was 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-per-cent 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,” said the release.
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 advice 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 Richardson.