Strike action by some Civil Service Association (CSA) government workers over wage increase negotiations continued on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 with the president of the union indicating that her members are now ready to meet with the Government Negotiating Team (GNT).
The CSA did not attend a meeting with the GNT on Monday, March 25 because it had a “pre-planned” meeting with the Trade Union Federation (TUF) – the umbrella union organisation – on the same date, CSA President Mary Isaac has said.
“That meeting (with the TUF) would’ve guided us on the way forward to meet with the GNT,” Isaac told St. Lucia News Online (SNO).
Isaac said the CSA is now waiting to hear from the GNT as to when next to meet. But she noted that the industrial action, which is in its second week, will continue.
“We’ve had meetings upon meetings to resolve the issue but so far nothing conclusive. We are expecting to continue (the strike) tomorrow (Wednesday, March 27), and hopefully by Thursday something material should take place based on what’s on the ground,” she explained. “When we meet with the GNT we will know whether or not to continue the strike next week.”
Isaac said the CSA has accepted government’s invitation to meet and continue negotiations, but have rejected government’s ultimatum of having workers return to work as a condition of being able to meet. She told SNO that she does not believe government will continue to entertain this condition because her members will not budge.
On Monday, March 25, some CSA members, dressed in red, held a placard-bearing protest in front the CSA Centre. Isaac said this action will be held again on Thursday to prove members’ solidarity with the CSA’s stance on the issue.
Several government departments and offices have been interrupted or crippled by the strike, but some CSA members have still reported for work.
Last week, he government issued a statement thanking “the large numbers of public officers who have been turning up for work and rendering service during the current impasse with the Civil Service Association over wage negotiations”.
However, government warned that “employees must be mindful of the fact that our laws also remove the obligation on the part of the employer to remunerate an employee for services that the employee does not render during a strike or lockout… Government draws attention to these provisions to clarify and correct the mis-impression that has been stated elsewhere and to remove any doubts which may exist. It is a fundamental principle that is enshrined in the term ‘no work, no pay.’”
The CSA, which mainly represents administrative government employees, is pushing for a wage increase of 9.5 percent without conditions or 4.5 with special conditions/benefits, however government has refused to budge from its final offer of four percent with benefits.
Other union bodies representing teachers, police, and fire officers have reportedly agreed to the government’s offer.