President of the Civil Service Association (CSA) Mary Isaac has confirmed that members of the public sector union have voted to end the three-week strike and return to work tomorrow, Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
The CSA has accepted the government’s condition that members of the union return to work to facilitate continued negotiations, especially in light of new proposals submitted by the CSA.
The news comes hours after CSA members held a placard-bearing march through Castries protesting over what the union describes as unfair treatment from the government in the wage-increase negotiations.
Isaac told St. Lucia News Online this evening that after a “fruitful” meeting with the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) last Friday, the members, after the end of today’s march, decided to “meet the government half way”.
Isaac said the move was taken because the government “reached out to us when they had a meeting with us last Friday”.
In that meeting, Isaac said the CSA representatives “tabled a set of new proposals” which the GNT said they would consider on the condition that the workers return to work.
“The GNT said they would not respond to our proposals while workers are on strike… they would not respond under duress,” she said.
“They (GNT) have shown good faith by meeting with us,” the union president pointed out.
The CSA had previously refused the GNT’s offer to call off the strike first before negotiations could continue.
Asked if this new decision stemmed from pressure, after all the other public sector unions signed onto government’s four-percent wage offer, Isaac admitted: “We were pressured to go a different route in terms of looking at a different way of settling the matter as opposed to negotiating the 9.5 percent… We were able to arrive at a better compromise due to the pressures that were inserted on us.”
The news also comes hours after the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture released a statement on the impasse, calling for the matter to go to arbitration.
The Chamber stated: “The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture is strong in its conviction that industrial unrest is not a very useful tool in the current delicate economic circumstance of the country and as such believes that the time for arbitration has arrived. Clearly dialogue has run its course. The Chamber thus insists that the parties proceed forthwith to arbitration.”