Saint Lucia firefighters will continue strike action they started earlier this week, despite what was described as a very cordial meeting with Labour Minister, Stephenson King.
The head of the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association, Shane Felix, said the organisation met King Thursday night.
He commended the minister’s ‘humble approach’, but indicated that nothing had changed.
He said King, who is currently Acting Prime Minister in the absence of Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, promised to get in touch with the PM and get back to the association, but nothing has been heard so far within the time frame indicated.
“We were not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting,” Felix declared.
“As we have said to the minister ‘We’ve been there before. We’ve received commitments in writing but nothing has happened,'” Felix told St Lucia Times.
According to Felix, the two sides discussed a number of issues that Saint Lucia firefighters say have been outstanding for a very long time.
They included firefighters who are consistently on contract.
Felix said when the contracts end, the firefighters have to wait most times for about two months before they get their next salary.
He told St Lucia Times that contractual employees have difficulty obtaining bank loans.
The association Chairman said the organisation also discussed the lack of a promotion policy, leadership issues, payment for firefighters who are consistently performing duties above their substantive rank and the pension age of members of the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS), among other issues.
Felix told St Lucia Times that the pension age has been increased to 65, although fire service regulations recognise that when firefighters turn 50, they should be exempted from ‘strenuous activity.’
He pointed out that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has advocated for firefighters to retire earlier than other public servants.
Members of the Fire Service Association met Friday morning to receive an update on the meeting with Labour Minister King and decided to continue their strike.
“It looks as though we will be home for the weekend because we have not received anything tangible from the authorities,” Felix explained.
The Fire Service Association is scheduled to met on Monday with the Government Negotiating Team to discuss working conditions and fringe benefits.