CASTRIES, St Lucia — A statement issued by the Saint Lucia prime minister’s office last Friday titled “John Compton refused to pay civil servants too, do not attempt to rewrite history”, has been described by the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) as lowering the standards of the office of the prime minister by its current occupant, Dr Kenny Anthony.
“To blatantly use the highest office in the land to wage a political war of words with the parliamentary leader of the opposition Mr Stephenson King is not just an abuse of the instruments of power and taxpayers’ revenue but, also an unsophisticated approach to dealing with the current impasse between the government and the striking civil servants,” the LPM said in a press statement.
“These useless exchanges that seek to rehash old arguments for political leverage and subject the citizens of Saint Lucia to a daily comedy hour reminiscent of the old television series Abbott and Costello is something our nation could do without in these trying times,” the LPM continued.
According to the LPM, there are serious issues confronting Saint Lucia that cannot be resolved by politicians and their supporters hurling personal insults at each other and at striking workers whom they perceive might be undermining the authority and longevity of the government.
“What the country needs now are men and women who are capable of identifying what the problems are and are able to provide a series of comprehensive solutions,” the LPM said.
What the citizens of Saint Lucia are currently witnessing through these exchanges, the LPM continued, are the ruling St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) deserting its traditional stance (since its founding in 1950) of encouraging workers to protest and demand more; it has chosen instead to align itself with the political reasoning of its nemesis, Sir John Compton, whom they often demonize for being “anti-worker” for his refusal to pay workers when he deemed the country could not afford.
“These inconsistent positions are not only grounded in political hypocrisy but also speak loudly to the political expedience of the constantly shifting positions of the Labour Party since Anthony became its leader in 1996,” the party said.
The LPM insisted that the United Workers Party (UWP) has not fared any better than the SLP when it comes to intelligently discussing the issues that have resulted in the industrial actions taken by the civil servants.
“Therefore, it may be an opportune moment for the UWP to categorically state what its real position on the matter is including, what it hopes to accomplish with the mixed messages that it has been sending. Are the conflicting positions of the UWP driven by politics or a genuine concern with ensuring that Anthony refrains from using clever and convenient methods of bloating his administration and the public payroll with non-value, high paying political appointments and with his refusal to cut costs at our foreign missions and local government controlled facilities while saying to civil servants that they are not entitled to a pay raise,” the LPM asked.
The LPM reiterated its long-held position on the impasse between the government and civil servants: No government should have to pay what the country cannot afford. In addition, no party should mislead workers by blatantly disrespecting and chastising them and their union leaders for taking actions that, if the party were in opposition, would have been described as “right” and “patriotic”.
In the light of the very grave situation that threatens the stability of the nation, the LPM called upon the government to return to the bargaining table immediately, without the preconditions it has set for convening a meeting.
“The people of Saint Lucia are eager to see a resolution of the matter and whether this government is able to fulfil its great promise of ushering in ‘better days’ for a poverty-stricken nation,” the LPM concluded.