The executive of the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA) will meet with its members on Thursday (June 26) to discuss a number of “burning issues” it hopes to iron out soon.
Topping the list of issues to be discussed is the five per cent wage cut proposal by government, SLFSA President Shane Felix told St Lucia News Online (SNO) today (June 25).
He said based on personal discussions, the general feeling is that members will not accept the proposal. However, Felix said he will follow protocol and present the proposal to members so that it could be properly discussed and a formal decision made.
Felix said Thursday’s meeting will be the first to discuss the wage-cut proposal.
The SLFSA had proposed to meet with its members earlier this month based on a recommendation from government, but was barred from doing so by the top management of the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS). The SLFS officials had said that the association cannot hold an emergency meeting with its members unless the SLFS receives seven days notice prior to the date of the meeting.
Meanwhile, another “burning issue” to be discussed is the government’s lack of response to the recommendations coming out of the Commission of Inquiry (COI).
“Most importantly the lack of respect and recognition from the authorities … despite confirmation in a Commission of Inquiry report submitted to the governor general one year and two months ago. So the association will decide on the next step based on the lack of response from the authorities,” Felix told SNO.
Asked about his thoughts on the move made by the SLFS to have a back-up team of fire officers from St Vincent and the Grenadines in the event of a strike action, Felix said this is a worrying trend and shows the disinterest in solving the issues.
“Basically what is happening, rather than the authority dealing with the issues, which are very serious in the fire service, they are finding ways to put the association and its members down,” he argued.
The SLFSA president said during the meeting, he will also put his members on high alert that senior fire officials have already started to monitor the fire stations to ensure that there is enough fire officers on duty. Felix said he’s concerned about the way these issues are being handled by senior officials, who were placed there to serve.
Apart from these issues, the SLFSA will also discuss with its members, plans for a new brokerage company to take over the association’s medical and life insurance policy.