Protest actions and a walkout by immigration officers on Saturday at Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten were roundly condemned by Frans Richardson, commissioner of tourism.

Although officers did comply with orders to return to their posts after several hours, more than 3,000 people reportedly passed through immigration checkpoints with no security measures in place during the walkout.

Richardson described the airport protest as "wrong, unnecessary, and illegal. These officers demonstrated gross irresponsibility by leaving our borders vulnerable as a means to get attention," he said in a statement.

The officers were protesting job benefits, salary scales and working conditions.

The airport resumed normal operations by Saturday evening.

"The grievances are in the process of being addressed," Richardson said.

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