Published On: Sat, Apr 8th, 2023

Go-slow action police force puts government in a tight corner

PHILIPSBURG — The industrial action by police officers, described by their attorney Cor Merx as go-slow has been a long time in the making. Merx stated in a brief message posted on Youtube that the action that began on April 4, will continue.

“We sent a letter to the Minister of Justice on February 18, expressing our grievances,” Merx said. Those grievances relate to placement letters, payment arrears and the difference in payment for immigration officers and regular police officers.

“It is a pity that we never got an answer from the minister,” Merx said. “Instead, the minister announced a day later that officers have to come forward with all kinds of information for their placement letters. That is not how it should be done.”

When the deadline for a reaction expired on March 31, industrial action was the next step for the disgruntled police officers, but Merx intends to keep all options open. “We should be reasonable for every offer that comes forward, but we should not be stupid,” he said.

Independent MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten requested a question hour with Minister of Justice Anna Richardson in which she demands answers to fourteen questions.

“The recent reports about industrial action have me extremely concerned for the safety of my country and all who live or visit here,” the parliamentarian stated in a press statement that explains her desire to question the minister. “I completely understand the frustration of our force and continue to support their cause. However, the safety and the wellbeing of my country is my number one concern and priority.”

Heyliger-Marten gives Minister Richardson some credit, noting that she has “come a long way in rectifying this situation.”

Heyliger-Marten is seeking clarification about “what exactly the problem is” as a prerequisite for assisting the minister “with crossing the proverbial finish line on this matter.”

Her press release states that the industrial action of the police officers will begin at the immigration service at the country’s ports of entry – the harbor and the airport. “This is something we cannot afford so I hope that this matter will be resolved as soon as possible.”

On Thursday, Minister Richardson came to parliament to answer questions about the situation with the justice workers. She announced that  the national decree that regulates the functioning of the placement committee and the appeals committee will be published in the National Gazette on April 14. A consultant identified as Daal by the minister, chairs the placement committee that further consists of Florence Marlin (the human resources manager and acting secretary general at the ministry of justice) and the vice president of  the NAPB-union, Officer Doran.

Minister Richardson said that only the employees in immigration and at the prison have not received their placement letter yet. She said that immigration is a large department and that there are only four people at hand to prepare letters, have them signed, stuffed into envelopes and delivered to the respective department heads, who in turn distribute the letters to their staff.

She later said that she had personally been busy making labels and sticking them on envelopes to help the process along. “We do understand the outcry of our officers,” she said.

Independent MP Christophe Emmanuel said that he had spoken to fifteen justice workers and that only two of them agreed with the contents of the placement letter they had received. Minister Richardson said that the placement process should not be mistaken for a promotion process.”That is where the disappointment is coming from.”

Observers doubt that the government can sustain a go-slow for too long. “Something must give. If Carnival is cancelled due to security and safety concerns, the government surely will wake up.”


File photos of previous unions protests at government and parliament buildings.