A group of about 60 firefighters have decided to continue industrial action that started yesterday in light of the government’s failure to act upon recommendations from a Commission of Inquiry (COI) and to have other matters affecting them resolved.
Spokesperson for the group Damien Jn Baptiste told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today, September 2, that the protest will continue until government step forward and seek to have their many issues resolved.
He said firefighters are serious about taking the protest to another level.
The fireman told SNO that while no meeting will be held today, the firefighters have planned a sick-out for the entire day.
Asked whether he has made any contact with the management of the Fire Service, Jn Baptiste said no, but explained that the officials are aware of their grievances.
Unless contact is made with these firefighters, Jn Baptiste said they will continue to stay away from work.
The group of firefighters met yesterday at the Mon Repos Multi Purpose Centre where they deliberated on the issues affecting membership of the Fire Service Association and the department. In the end, members agreed that the issues have been allowed to fester for too long by the authorities.
According to a post on the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association’s Facebook page yesterday: “A petition was signed by everyone present and a correspondence written and addressed to the chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC), informing him that fire personnel have agreed to immediately withdraw their services (stay home) ‘until we are positively engaged in action aimed at speedily resolving the existing issues that continue to plague the Fire department.’ The letter was hand delivered to the PSC by a contingent of persons who attended the gathering. This is therefore a call to all members to stay home until the authorities are willing to engage us in resolving our long outstanding issues. If we stand divided, we will all fall united.”
Deputy Fire Chief Lambert Charles told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) yesterday that the sick-out has affected operations at both the Dennery and Vieux Fort fire stations. However, the fire official did not confirm or deny that it was a protest.
Charles had said that information gathered suggest that the firefighters are seeking an audience with government and not the management of the Fire Service.
“I couldn’t say how it will result if that is what they want,” he stated.
He also pointed out that while some firefighters reported that they attended a meeting yesterday, permission was not granted in that regard.
During a similar protest in June, which lasted for one weekend, the Fire Service had plans to fill the gap with a team from St .Vincent and the Grenadines, in case of further industrial action.
The firefighters have said they are fed up with the management of the Fire Department and are concerned that the recommendations of the COI into the Fire Service have not been implemented.
SNO was unable to reach Charles for another comment, as well as the permanent secretary in the public service ministry.