Though they got off to a late start, scores of St Lucian civil servants represented by the Civil Service Association were on the move this morning in a placard-bearing march through Castries in protest over what the union describes as unfair treatment from the government in its wage negotiations.
Singing in unity and guided by the police, the group marched along the John Compton Highway, proceeded onto Jeremie Street and then turned onto Bridge Street. The march started and ends at the CSA Centre.
With some onlookers shouting “en rouge” and “bitter days”, the reaction of the public to the march was mixed. Some members of the public joined the march while others expressed their dissatisfaction.
President of the Civil Service Association (CSA) Mary Isaac Isaac said in an earlier interview with St. Lucia News Online that the purpose of the march is to demand respect for public workers and indicate that what they are asking for is not unreasonable.
The CSA, the only public sector union which has not signed onto the government’s offer, is pushing for a 4.5 percent wage increase with benefits or 9.5 percent increase without benefits.
The Government Negotiating Team (GNT) has however refused to budge on its four-percent wage increase offer citing the harsh economic conditions facing the country. The GNT said it is willing to go back to the negotiating table on condition that the CSA halt its strike which has been underway for more than three weeks. The CSA has however refused to adhere to this condition.
The CSA has since appointed two ex-civil servants – Mark Louis and Matthew Roberts – as intercessors, who were initially rejected by GNT until Prime Minister Dr.Kenny Anthony, in a letter to the GNT chairman, officially recognized the two men as intercessors.
The CSA president said she is confident that Louis and Roberts can represent their interest.
The march was initially scheduled for last week Thursday, April 4 but was postponed after the police’s disapproval of what it describes as the union’s incomplete application. The union was invited to resubmit their application addressing the omissions.
Isaac said the police commissioner approved the march on Friday, April 5.
The march was scheduled to begin at the CSA Centre, proceed on the John Compton Highway, right onto Jeremie Street then to Bridge Street, left on Brazil Street, continue left onto Chisel Street, back onto Jeremie Street, then the John Compton Highway and end at the CSA Centre.