~Almost 12 years Firemen waiting for 1st rank stripe~
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – “The Sint Maarten Fire Department has been treated as a forgotten stepchild of Government since 2010. Not one Minister of General Affairs cared enough to either listen to the cries of the hardworking civil servants in the Fire Department, or actually do something about the salary issues the Government of Sint Maarten created in 10/10/10 with these so-called generic functions.
“Instead of doing the actual work to understand the ‘rangen’ merit system used in different departments within Government, in particular the Fire Department, the Government of Sint Maarten in 10/10/10, and the many ministers of General Affairs who followed, chose to continue to squeeze all civil servants into a generic salary and function book system,” stated Gromyko Wilson over the weekend while speaking to some of his supporters.
These supporters whose families work for the Fire Department explained that the firemen whose salary is not regulated will earn less pension, because of their last paycheck. This includes the ones who resigned and left the island for a better opportunity within the Dutch Kingdom. The dream to buy a house or land is harder because of the low salaries these particular civil servants earn. “It’s just incredible one Prime Minister after the other, and none of them are taking this Department seriously, but expect everybody to have a smile and be in good spirits to function,” Wilson observed.
This prompted Wilson to urge Minister of General Affairs Silveria Jacobs, to once and for all, even if it’s a political stunt to fix the function book and salary issues of the Fire Department staff.
Wilson continued: “It cannot be that persons follow the necessary trainings/courses to receive their next ‘rang’ and the Minister of General Affairs refuses to recognize the ‘rangen’ merit system, which is regulated by law (Landsbesluit van de Regering van Sint Maarten houdende regels omtrent de aanstellings- en bevorderingseisen van brandweerpersoneel Aanstellings- en Bevorderingseisen Brandweerpersoneel).”
Wilson explained that the Fire Department, similar to many departments, is a small department within Government that has a limited number of specific functions. Persons can only be promoted to the next function if that person within that specific function either leaves the department, passes away or gets promoted to a higher function. Wilson reiterated that it is for these very reasons that countries have the merit system. This system is put in place to ensure continued professional, and educational growth, and salary increases for staff.
“If the Minister of General Affairs was serious about fixing the function books of the Fire Department to reflect the current training these hardworking civil servants have followed, but are yet to receive their rightful salary, then she would have acted accordingly. It is too easy to simply use the excuse of lack of personnel in the Department of Personnel Affairs,” Wilson continued.
“There are a number of ways to tackle this problem if the Minister cared enough to make this issue a priority. A few simple examples are: 1) create a task force committee consisting of staff from the entire Personnel Affairs Department, and not only the policy section and persons with a legal background within the Ministry of General Affairs (these persons don’t even have to be part of the Department of Legal Affairs),” He suggested.
“One can even add a representative of the Ministry of Finance to this task force. A much easier and less creative way to deal with this issue once and for all is to outsource this issue to HR companies with reliable experience outside of Government. This is the same route the Minister of Justice has taken when dealing with the Justice staff. How effective the Minister of Justice has been is a topic for another day. However, one can certainly expect that the Minister of General Affairs can put some of her budget aside to actually handle this matter if she so cares about the hardworking men and women in the Fire Department of Sint Maarten,” He stated.
Wilson concluded: “The importance of a well-functioning Fire Department with happy employees earning what they rightfully deserve, was felt with the recent fires on Sint Maarten. I don’t think anyone would want to be in a position to question whether the Firemen will reach them in case of a situation, because they are on strike.”