Chief Commissioner De Witte criticizes Abvo-statements: “Union assumption is absolutely absurd”

POSTED: 09/3/12 11:06 PM

St. Maarten – The President of ABVO union St. Maarten Keturah Brown plans to take government to task for funds due to them over the years. “Everything that was pending before 10-10-10 that the Government of the Netherlands Antilles should have taken care of under the cap of the Ministry of Justice, whether it was a gratification, promotion, things that have been left lagging or hanging, those issues must be settled.
The Abvo also suggested that the police force management is striving to create a split whereby part of the force will become some sort of Dutch gendarmerie while the rest will be downgraded to a French-side style police municipale.
Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte has criticized the union’s point of view. “This statement is an absolutely absurd assumption,” he stated in a reaction this weekend. “Together we are working to build a strong and better quality police force. This cannot be achieved in one day, because you will encounter many obstacles during this process.”
De Witte said that the police management is “in constant talks with the unions” and that it will continue to do so. Last Thursday, when the Abvo held its press conference, the police force management was in talks with the unions about the same topics. “Both the Abvo and the NAPB were invited for this meeting but the Abvo was absent. The union did not attend the meeting it has requested; instead they went to a press conference to criticize the police force and the justice minister,” De Witte stated. “Our consultation with the NAPB was satisfactory for both parties. We are and remain prepared to sincerely incorporate the Abvo in transparent communication.”
In the meeting with the NAPB (the Dutch general police union) the management team explained that several files of officers that were transferred from the police force of the Netherlands Antilles were incomplete. Two days before the meeting – last week Tuesday information came that the settlement committee had completed most of the files and that 2.4 million guilders was transferred to the Finance Ministry in St. Maarten for pay-out to the justice staff.
The chief commissioner concluded his statement with the remark that he will not comment further on the issue.
Keturah Brown maintained at the Abvo’s press conference on Thursday that a settlement commission was established with representatives from each island to oversee the distribution of the funds so that departments that come under the Ministry of Justice receive their payment. “Our main concern is for the ones that we represent such as the police force, customs, prison and the Coast Guard.”
Although information about the exact amount due was not available to Abvo on Thursday, Brown said that the Ministry of Justice “had all the calculations done” and that in some cases these were sent to the settlement commission. The Ministry of Justice told the union that “everything is being worked on.”
“Through the grapevine we are hearing that these matters have been settled but we do not want to hear it,” Brown said. “We are asking for the documentation to prove that they have complied with their duty. “We are looking at the end of September as the pay-out date where some of the cases can be rectified.”
Finance Minister Roland Tuitt assured the union about three weeks ago that the payments will be made within seven weeks after the documents were submitted. This makes the end of September a reasonable deadline for the pay-out.
The union considers action if the ministry does not comply with the payout.
The Windward Islands Teachers Union Witu has indicated it will support the Abvo one hundred percent. “The right of workers is not something that should be tampered with, Witu-president Claire Elshot said. She described the way government deals with the transition as the “dragging feet syndrome and then there will be “the statutes of limitation” which has been the favorite phrase by some, said Elshot.

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Chief Commissioner De Witte criticizes Abvo-statements: “Union assumption is absolutely absurd” by

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