PHILIPSBURG--Justice Minister Anna Richardson shot back on Tuesday at statements made by police union NAPB St. Maarten last week, saying she does not acknowledge the union’s “rights” to collective bargaining with government on employee issues.
NAPB issued a press release last week that referred to several issues related to the draft function book for Justice Ministry workers. Although NAPB said it agreed with the Committee of Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) review of the function books, it also asserted its right to sit at the collective bargaining table.
“The board of the NAPB, once more, would like to make it very clear to the Minister of Justice that, according to the [International Labour Organization – Ed.] ILO [Collective Bargaining Convention] C154, the NAPB has a right to collective bargaining, which means the right to represent and negotiate on behalf of affiliated members in the Justice Ministry. Denying this right is a constitutional violation,” said NAPB in the press release.
Collective bargaining is a general right, not that of a specific union, Richardson said on Tuesday.
“ILO treaties, in general, are not very specific in their application. The right of collective bargaining for public servants in St. Maarten is regulated in Article 106 of the Constitution of St. Maarten which orders the legal position, and the rules of participation for civil servants, which is to be regulated by National Ordinance and is referred to as the [National Ordinance substantive civil servants law] LMA,” said Richardson.
According to her, NAPB is excluded from the collective bargaining table because it is not part of CCSU, the designated body that negotiates on behalf of civil servants.
“There are rules on how unions need to apply for membership of the CCSU, and what criteria must be met to be admitted as members. It also lists which specific subjects the CCSU has the right of consent to and that, for all other matters, the right of advice. The right of collective bargaining is therefore limited to the package for which CCSU has the right of consent.
“NAPB did not meet the criteria to become a member of the CCSU. As such, they are not a part of it. In addition, where it relates to the function book for the Ministry of Justice, the CCSU does not have the right of consent, but rather to render advice.
“The Ministers of Justice and of General Affairs [Silveria Jacobs] are always willing to meet with NAPB as a union representative if they wish to bring across some concerns of their members. However, the ministers do not acknowledge the right of collective bargaining of NAPB with the government regarding any employee issue,” said Richardson.
CCSU handed in its advice on the draft function books on March 1. The Justice Ministry is currently reviewing the submission.
“A response will be given to the CCSU concerning the advice that was rendered, and the relevant changes that will be made, where and if necessary,” said Richardson.