The government of Saint Lucia has asserted that a strike by firefighters which started earlier this week is against the law.
The government’s position was conveyed in a March 15, 2019 letter to the President of the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association, Shane Felix.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Saint Lucia Times, was signed by Labour Minister, Stephenson King and copied to the Labour Commissioner, the Permanent Secretary in the Department of the Public Service and the Cabinet Secretary.
It advised Felix that members of the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association cannot continue to maintain the current posture of withholding their labour.
“This is so as it goes contrary to the law as well as the grievance procedure which is prescribed in article 38(2) of the existing Collective Agreement between the government of Saint Lucia and the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association which was executed on the 23rd day of September 2015,” the Labour Minister wrote.
He appealed to the association president and the members of the organisation to immediately report to duty.
“It is only then will we be able to meaningfully proceed with negotiations without further risk of compromise to public health, safety and security,” King stated in the letter.
The Saint Lucia Fire Service Association executive met the Labour Minister on Thursday to discuss ‘ decades long outstanding matters’ for which the association wanted redress.
The Labour Minister recalled in his letter that at the end of the meeting, he reiterated the commitment of the government of Saint Lucia to ‘timely settlement’ of the matters.
However King noted that this is predicated upon the commitment of all parties to meaningfully engage each other in good faith.
After the meeting with the Labour Minister on Thursday, the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association held a general membership meeting on Friday to update members.
But it was determined that nothing had changed and the strike by firefighters would continue.