(SNO) — Under pressure from several unions on the island over the slow pace of salary negotiations for the 2016 to 2019 triennium, the Allen Chastanet-led administration has said it is in fact listening to the concerns of public officers.
The matter has ignited disruptions in the public service earlier this week with teachers and students staying away from school on Monday and Tuesday.
Furthermore, firefighters have informed the government that they are taking industrial action on Wednesday if issues confronting them, including salary negotiations, are not addressed.
In response, Senior Communication Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, Nicole McDonald, said the government is giving public officers its ears, concentrating on the education sector.
“I want to say too that the government of Saint Lucia places emphasis on our education sector and ensuring that, you know, we create better conditions for our students and for our teachers as well,” she told HTS News.
She said last year the government allocated over $10-million towards the rehabilitation of schools around Saint Lucia.
“And we saw a lot of schools benefiting, especially in the south of the island from having their roofs replaced, from having termites removed from certain new furniture,” she said.
McDonald said in the next budget cycle there will be more investment in creating better working conditions in schools.
She stated that the government was able to “manage the situation” caused by the disruptions.
“But overall, we have been able to manage the services that we deliver to the public,” she said.
Meanwhile, unions are encouraging their members not to back down and to keep the pressure up.
“I encourage you to stay steadfast with your union, steadfast with the movement, steadfast with the TUF (Trade Union Federation), so that we can make this work for all of us,” Cyprian Montrope, president of the Civil Service Association (CSA), told members. “And I expect at the end of the day, if we mind together and we work together we will get the outcome that we so deserve.”
The negotiating period for 2016 to 2019 ends in March but it has grounded to a standstill.