A meeting between executives of the St. Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA) and the Minister of National Security Victor La Corbiniere this morning was proven fruitful, according to President of SLFSA Shane Felix.
Felix told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) that the minister had a discussion with him and other members of the executive, regarding the issues facing the association.
La Corbiniere made a few proposals to the SLFSA, which the association plans to take to its members for further discussion.
While Felix did not divulge the details of the proposals, he said one of the most significant things coming out of the meeting with the minister is the fact that the Ministry of Home Affairs, sought legal advice on the legality of the association.
However, Felix reminded that the Fire Chief Leslie Fontenelle was quick to say that the association is operating illegally, because the time had passed for it to elect a new executive.
“The opinion of the ministry is otherwise and they will be working with the association in helping to elect a new executive, recognizing the association as a bona fide organisation within the fire service,” Felix explained.
Meanwhile, the SLFSA president told SNO that coming out of yesterday’s meeting; a mandate was given by the membership, where they are requesting that the Public Service Commission (PSC) make it a priority to have disciplinary action taken against the senior fire officials for their wrongdoings, before anything else is discussed.
Felix said that while the government is not responsible for instituting disciplinary action on public servants, the mandate was raised with the minister. “Unless we get that sort of inclination that the PSC is sufficiently dealing with the matter at whatever point we will determine whether to resume duty or not. We were told that it is in progress so we await the PSC decision,” he asserted.
“Whatever it is they have to do members want to know just as junior colleagues have been disciplined by the PSC whether suspended or dismissed, we would like to see the PSC do the same with those senior officers who have been found wanting by the COI.”
Felix stressed that in all the correspondence between the SLFSA and the PSC, it was noted that the association is seeking to have persons disciplined for which the allegations were confirmed about and not just merely have the recommendations from the COI implemented.
The SLFSA plan on meeting with its members soon, to discuss the proposals coming from the National Security Ministry and awaits a response from the PSC.
Until such time, the firefighters, which now stands somewhere between 90 to 100 will continue their protest action, until something is done to correct the issues and have the matters resolved.