The Saint Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) has spoken out on what it describes as a parade of individuals purporting to represent the views of the respective stakeholders, when Prime Minister Allen Chastanet recently addressed the nation on this country’s COVID-19 response.
The CSA says that it was viewed as part of a window dressing exercise.
And the trade union has made it clear that it will not hesitate to act to take ‘appropriate action’ to protect its members and workers in general, from the effects of COVID-19.
CSA President, Cyprian Montrope, outlined the trade union position in a statement Monday.
In it, he expressed concern over the Allen Chastanet administration’s lack of consultation in relation to COVID-19.
The full text of his remarks in a press release sent to St Lucia Times appears below:
Further to our recent remarks concerning COVID-19 and the safety of workers, we wish to highlight some new concerns on behalf of the members of the St. Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) given the recent pronouncements by the Honourable Prime Minister and the intention to lengthen the State of Emergency in the country for ninety (90) days.
Firstly, the CSA takes issue with the lack of genuine consultation by Government in relation to COVID-19.
The most recent meeting of NEMAC was as a charade as it did not provide any opportunity for incorporating the views of the stakeholders, bearing in mind that the Prime Minister addressed the nation with a prepared speech within minutes of the end of the meeting.
The parade of individuals purporting to represent the views of the respective stakeholders was viewed as part of a window dressing exercise and an orchestrated effort to give the impression that there is some form of consultation.
CSA considers the NEMAC meetings as an avenue for conveying decisions already taken by Cabinet or within the confines of the so called Command Center.
The CSA will review its position in relation to attendance at such gathering in the future.
The CSA is opposed to the idea of a 7:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew on the basis that it is impractical to enforce and therefore will serve no real purpose in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In establishing the time for the curfew, the Government did not take account of workers who must travel to and from work to areas far from their homes, and the difficulties of using public transportation within the limited time between close of work and the start of the curfew.
The suggested time of this curfew gives an impression that COVID is a nocturnal menace which can be kept in check during daylight hours but not after dark.
In general, it is our view that the curfew infringes on the rights and freedom of citizens particularly as it appears along with other measures to be targeting certain sections of the population.
The CSA believes that the better option for flattening the curve is a total lockdown for a specified period, preceded by an adequate notice period and a package of financial and other form of support to the most vulnerable.
During the lockdown of approximately seven (7) to ten (10) days, we must institute a vigourous education campaign to encourage the proper and mandatory use of masks in public.
CSA will continue to play its part in promoting the use of masks, physical distancing, washing or sanitizing of hands and encouraging compliance by everyone.
After the lockdown, Government must be more assertive in restricting the arrival of visitors from high risk countries, exercising greater control at ports of entry and insisting on secondary COVID-19 testing procedures within a short time of arrival, as informed by proper medical advice and scientific research.
There is no doubt that the sudden rise in cases is inextricably linked to the lax posture adopted towards visitors and their apparent lack of observance of the protocols at the COVID-19 approved hotels.
The CSA will monitor the situation closely and will not hesitate to take action as we deem appropriate to protect our members and workers in general from the effects of this pandemic.
Headline photo caption: Cyprian Montrope – President of the Saint Lucia Civil Service Association