Sunday 31 May, 2020

St Lucian firefighters stage industrial action

Yesterday, a letter stating Saint Lucian firefighters' intentions to stage industrial action on Wednesday, March 13 was presented to Public Service Permanent Secretary, Peggy-Ann Soudatte.

Chairman of the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association (FSA), Shane Felix, who signed the letter, said the choice was made during an emergency meeting on Tuesday, whereby it was decided that labour within the fire service units will be withheld till the Government Negotiating Team returns to the negotiating table by Thursday, March 14. The purpose is so that salaries and benefits can be discussed.

The letter addressed to the public service PS also drew attention to the growing exasperation and resultant low morale amidst members of the Saint Lucia Fire Service.

“Today’s decision also took into consideration the decades-long outstanding matters confronting the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS), evidenced in the most recent 2016 report by Local Partnerships LLP (A British Consultancy firm) which in effect concluded that '…the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) is at a point of crisis,'” the letter stated.

The FSA urges the immediate initiation of a task force to assist with resolving the long-standing grievances of the fire services. As stated in the letter, these grievances have been “documented through various reports spanning the years 1996 to 2016.” Also indicated in the letter is that only when these requests are acknowledged and a commitment made to address their needs will Firefighters recommence their duties.

Industrial action by the SLFS comes after the Saint Lucia Teachers Union and the Civil Services Association both requested the Government Negotiating Team return to the negotiating table by Thursday, March 14, to discuss salaries and work conditions. On Tuesday, March 12, schools remained mostly vacant as several teachers called in sick. Reports today  — Wednesday — are that school doors are opened, but compounds remain predominantly vacant with only a few students and teachers trickling in.

The Customs department has also reportedly staged industrial action since Tuesday, March 12.

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