The General Secretary of the Saint Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA), Claude Paul, has declared that he believes that the morale of Customs Officers after a recent series of meetings between them and the trade union is ‘very high’.
Paul, a former Comptroller of Customs, was responding to a question pertaining to the mood of the officers after the meetings.
“I think the morale is very high and the Customs Officers remain quite upbeat as far as the situation is concerned,” the CSA official asserted.
Paul spoke amid reports that Customs Officers began a two-day sick-out Thursday, with a likelihood that the protest may escalate on Monday.
The officers have expressed concern about job security with the proposed new Border Protection Management Authority becoming a statutory body.
Media reports have indicated that Cabinet conclusion No 247 of 2018 on April 16, 2018, approved the establishment of the Saint Lucia Border Management Authority as a Statutory Corporation.
Asked whether he had heard Minister with Responsibility for Finance, Doctor Ubaldus Raymond, admit to a lack of consultation during the roll out of the proposed new authority, Paul said as long as a cabinet conclusion on the new entity remains unchanged, the CSA will accept it as the government’s position.
“The creation of a statutory board to manage the border control entity, whatever it is called, remains a bone of contention for the Customs Officers and of course the CSA by extension,” he declared.
Paul expressed the view that the first order of business is for the government to examine that policy position and determine what alternatives there could be going forward.
Asked whether the CSA would endorse industrial action such as a sick-out by aggrieved Customs Officers, the CSA General Secretary said he did not know about people falling sick.
“Unions never plan activities like that – if people fall sick, they fall sick and when people fall sick, we have to find ways to get them well,” he observed.
“We recognise that people can fall sick for a number of reasons. These days in the work force you have air quality issues; you have psychological issues and of course there was a recent flu taking place.”
Paul said he himself was affected by the flu last week.
“I am sure you can hear it in my voice.”
He noted that industrial action is not off the table since the CSA is a trade union.
“Whenever the situation calls for it, we will do what we need to do,” Paul said.