Published On: Tue, Jun 29th, 2021

Justice minister happy with court ruling but unions are not impressed

PHILIPSBURG — The Court in First Instance has ruled that the police unions – NAPB and ABVO – cannot organize meetings, work interruptions parades and public manifestations “if those activities complicate the conduct of business.” Justice Minister Anna Richardson celebrated the ruling as a victory but it seems that her initiative to go to court has not done anything to improve the relationship between her ministry and the police force.

Minister Richardson went to court to prevent further protest actions by members of the police force, the prison and the Immigration and Border Protection Services. The minister cited potential damage to the economy and even to the harbor’s homeporting project as reasons for taking the unions to court.

But Richardson did not find the court on her side. On the contrary, the court labeled the lawsuit as “fundamentally wrong” and the way the government is dealing with the police force as “unfortunate.” The court found no evidence that the officers are in any way misbehaving, as the minister claimed through her attorney Aernout Kraaijeveld.

The “go-slow” actions are the result of the never-ending saga about the establishment of the function books and the payment of vacation allowances.

Attorney Cor Merx, who represented the defendants, noted in a reaction after the ruling “that the judge had never expected this from a minister of justice. “The mistake she made was that she is talking about a strike and the judge found that there is no strike. The judgment means that the police are allowed to continue under one condition: no disturbance to the police work. So they are allowed to continue as long as they do what they have been doing. How can the minister then say that she won? Anna has lost it – the request to end the strike has not been granted because there was no strike, only a go-slow. My people are very happy with the outcome.”

During the court hearing, Merx pointed out that the protests never paralyzed the function of the police, the prison or the immigration department: “The police functions as usual, customs is not confronted with lines of waiting people and inmates are aired normally.”

Merx also addressed rumors that several police stations had been closed because of the protests. He quoted a statement from police management: “At no time did the police cease or slow down their daily operations. The maintenance of law and order and public safety are always taken very seriously.”

The attorney concluded: “The whole story about insecurity of citizens and the danger to the community is made up.”

The court will issue a detailed ruling on Friday, July 2.