President of the CSA Mary Isaacs told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today that the move is one of solidarity and discussions will only reconvene until these issues are resolved.
“We are still standing in solidarity with the fire officers. We don’t think it is right to continue our negotiations while our brother union is in so much distress,” she told SNO.
The CSA had written and faxed the GNT on Monday informing them of the decision. A meeting was scheduled between both parties yesterday, September 10, but did not pull through, based on the decision.
“We have put that on the back burner. I suppose they are going to wait to see when government is going to resolve the current impasse and when that is done, hopefully we can return talks,” Isaacs added.
Asked whether she is aware that the other trade unions may have taken the same approach, Isaacs said she is not sure what they are doing to show solidarity and is not interested in the usual lip service.
“What I am more interested in is the actions that have been taken and how this situation is going to resolve itself going forward.”
Isaacs said it is hoped that the St. Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA) will be able to make representation for its members and commence its own wage negotiations with the GNT, whenever the CSA recommences theirs.
Asked to comment on her meeting with the SLFSA, Isaacs said: “Some of the issues that stood out at the meeting are the abuse that has been going on for so long; the abuse of power particularly, the poor management, sexual harassment, and it is just not one person is the problem… Their concerns are very legitimate.”
Isaacs also stated her disappointment with the move taken by government on the issue so far, and also made reference to the announcement of Chief Fire Officer Leslie Fontenelle’s secondment.
“If your first act is to reward the person who has been inflicting so much damage on the workers of the fire service, I don’t know what message you are sending. I do not know how that is helping the situation?” she questioned.
The CSA was the first trade union body to publicly support the SLFSA since the commencement of its strike on September 1. The CSA has met with the SLFSA and offered its advice, as well as facilitated meetings being hosted by the SLFSA at its main conference centre located in Sans Souci, Castries.