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CASTRIES – Firefighters Wednesday joined public servants who have taken industrial action to force the St Lucia government into commencing wage negotiations for the period 2016-18.
In a letter to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Peggy-Ann Soudatte, the chairman of the St Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA), Shane Felix, said the decision to strike was made at an emergency meeting on Tuesday.
“Firemen 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,” he wrote.
The FSA also warned of the growing exasperation and resultant low morale among its members, adding “today’s decision also took into consideration the decades-long outstanding matters confronting the St Lucia Fire Service evidenced in the most recent 2016 report by Local Partnerships LLP (A British Consultancy firm) which in effect concluded that . . . the St Lucia Fire Service is at a point of crisis”.
The SLFSA said it was calling for the immediate establishment of a task force to assist with resolving the long-standing grievances of the fire services, adding these grievances have been “documented through various reports spanning the years 1996 to 2016”.
The FSA said that it is only when its requests are acknowledged and a commitment made to address their needs will firefighters return to work.
The industrial action by the SLFSA comes after the St Lucia Teachers Union and the Civil Services Association both requested the GNT to return to the negotiating table by Thursday, March 14, to discuss salaries and work conditions.
Schools reopened Wednesday, albeit with low turnouts of students. (CMC)