St. Maarten Prime Minister wants three month deferral of postal service transfer

POSTED: 10/6/11 1:03 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams is working to ensure that New Post Netherlands Antilles does not transfer the authority for operating the postal service to Postal Services St. Maarten (P.S.S.) before year’s end. This is based on agreement with the management that there should be a three month transition that includes two members of staff from the current pool being trained to take over the operations.

The Prime Minister’s attempts to halt the ongoing switch, which New Post Netherlands Antilles, wants it to happen on October 9, 2011, include having a face to face conversation with the Chairman of the Board of New Post Netherlands Antilles and sending a letter to Curacao’s shareholder representative Charles Cooper.
“Things went awry after those agreements that we had so in my letter, officially to Minister Charles Cooper, I again went back to that position and I indicated to Minister Cooper, that the Government of St. Maarten – and I did this in my capacity as Prime Minister of St. Maarten – is asking his interference, if you wish, his approval to make sure that the plan that was agreed to is executed. I also met briefly with the chairman of the board and apprised him of where things were at and I asked that he also give this matter his consideration,” Wescot-Williams said.
“Basically we’re asking that the agreement that parties had with respect to this transition period, as indicated mind you by NPNA, that would have led us to the end of December that year should be honored,” the prime minister added later.

The three month deferral would allow Postal Services St. Maarten time to build itself up and the government is willing to grant New Post Netherlands Antilles a mandate to continue carrying out postal service for the three months up to the end of the year.
While the government awaits the formal reply from Curacao, they plan to continue monitoring the developments here and trying to decide how to proceed. The specific focus in this regard is the fact that New Post Netherlands Antilles is seeking to set up and operate the non-postal business – e-zone and money gram business – separate from Postal Services St. Maarten.
“The government of St. Maarten has an issue with that, because it was an integral part of the operation of the postal services on St. Maarten,” the Prime Minister said.

Wescot-Williams also has questions about the request by the St. Maarten Communication Workers Union (SMCU) for intervention from the labor mediator to bring Postal Services St. Maarten to the negotiating table on the transition agreement.
“How could a union ask for mediation in a party that, at this point in time, technically speaking has no relationship with the employees? You ask for mediation when there is an issue between employer and employee or employees, but to seek mediation for a third party I can’t understand. If any mediation, in my opinion should be sought, it should be sought to ensure the position of the workers as far as NPNA is concerned because that is currently their employer. I don’t think, especially where it concerns the employees’ situation that we should have the discussion in the media,” Wescot-Williams said.

The Prime Minister says the key delays in the process to transfer the postal service and other business carried out by the Post Office are a reluctance by New Post Netherlands Antilles to provide especially financial information on its operations here in St. Maarten, the company’s 2009 decision that it would take over the E-zone and money transfer business – for which they have requested a license – a decision by certain employees to go to work for New Post Netherlands Antilles in the non postal service related business and the fact that the union was having its own discussions with New Post Netherlands Antilles and signed a transfer protocol binding Postal Services St. Maarten, while they formed part of a local working group that was working on the build-up of Postal Services St. Maarten.

The Council of Ministers discussed the latest developments on Tuesday and is researching whether New Post Netherlands Antilles has a license to offer the non-postal related service.
“I will tell you I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if New Post Netherlands Antilles pops up with its license tomorrow. I do know for sure that they are registered at the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” the Prime Minister said.

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