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(SNO) — Home Affairs Minister, Hermangild Francis, has described Fire Chief Joseph Joseph as a “toothless tiger” with no real powers, especially in the ongoing impasse between the government and firefighters over wage negotiations and other matters.
Firefighters in Saint Lucia are presently on strike.
One of their grievances has been the matter of promotion and the Saint Lucia Firefighters Association (SLFA) has griped about “certain people being favored over others”.
“The minority being favored, the majority not and so those are some of the concerns…” SFLA President Shane Felix said.
Some have sought to lay the blame at the feet of Joseph but Francis said this is unfair since his powers are limited.
“The fire chief, as Mr. Shane Felix has said, is a toothless tiger,” Francis noted. “He has no powers, really, no powers whatsoever. And he knows that, he knows that.”
According to Francis, the fire chief has no powers to promote anybody since this is done only by the Public Service Commission.
“So at the end of the day the fire chief cannot promote anybody,” he stated. “All he can do is to recommend based on what he gets from his officers, it goes to the Public Service Commission, the Public Service Commission does all the promotion, all interviews are held there. So the fire chief has nothing. So if there is any discrimination, blame the Public Service, don’t blame the fire chief.”
Meanwhile, Joseph told HTS News that the ongoing strike is taking its toll on the fire service.
“We are trying our best to deal with the situation as it stands,” he stated. “We have been able to maintain a presence at both airports, avoiding their closure. We have also able to respond to critical incidents.”
He said the fire service is fortunate not to have any major incidents occurring during the strike.