Fire Chief, Joseph Joseph, has written to the Chairman of the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association, Shane Felix, citing the potential for disciplinary action against firefighters who are currently on strike.
He said he has not been officially informed of industrial action of any kind.
But the Fire Chief disclosed that he was notified that a memo had been sent to Public Service declaring the withdrawal of the labour of the members of the Association.
In the March 18, 2019 letter, Joseph described the decision for members of the association to continue off the job as ill-advised and in conflict with the collective agreement.
He urged firefighters to put country before self.
According to the Chief Fire Officer, the fire department provides “essential functions”.
He asserted that the current disruption puts into immediate danger the health and safety of the public.
“In addition it is counterproductive to the welfare of the officers involved as it potentially exposes them to disciplinary action for being absent from duty without a reasonable excuse,” Joseph wrote.
He said failure of members to return to their respective posts may only serve to delay the negotiation process, in accordance with good industrial relations practices.
Joseph observed that every Fire Officer, including members of the Fire Service Association, took an oath of office, in which they swore to take steps at all times to preserve life and property and to discharge all their duties faithfully according to the law.
“I therefore urge you to put country before self in this instance and cooperate in restoring normalcy in this important Department,” the letter stated.
According to Joseph, management has been and remains committed to ensuring the welfare of officers and to do what is within its power to address the concerns of members.
“We will support any action within our scope of authority according to the established procedures to defend the welfare and well-being of fire personnel,” he wrote.