(SNO) — Mayor of Castries, Peterson Francis, has said that most Saint Lucians have a culture of resisting change and the only thing they like new is “new clothes”.
He was speaking in reference to a protest by workers of the Castries Constituency Council (CCC) last week, saying they took such action because of their reluctance to accept change.
He told reporters that it is a culture among Saint Lucian to not accept anything that is new.
“The only thing we like new, most of us, is new clothes,” the mayor stated. “But anything that is new, we have a problem with it.”
The workers had a protest over plans by the CCC to introduce new working arrangements for them.
Speaking to the heart of the issue itself, Francis said the matter had to do with a new work schedule for the workers, which will take effect, although he did not give a specific time frame for its implementation.
He stated there was no issue in the first place, saying the changes would have no effect on workers’s base salary or their overtime.
“There has never been an issue,” he stated. “All of our employees work on a five-day week, which is 40 hours a week. All we are doing, which is enshrined in the agreement, is that we now are going to be giving schedules. So where you find before that it is automatic that Saturdays and Sundays is overtime, it will be normal time for some of the workers. That’s all, there is no issue, there is no problem. But you know over the years, that these City Council workers have enjoyed that overtime, even when you cannot control them at normal time, so overtime when I am at my home, I don’t know what is happening.”
According to the mayor, the workers work for eight hours a day and 45 hours for the week and they were getting paid for their lunch hour.
“So right now that is going to stop,” he said. “So in other words, the people who were working from six to two, will now have to work from six to three. So you take you hour, your hour is yours but you are going to give the Council the eight hours.”
But the workers and unions representing them have alleged that there was not consultation in regard to the new schedule.
It was reported that the National Workers Union (NWU) has accused the CCC of reportedly informing the workers of the changes without the knowledge of the union.
Francis countered by saying that the changes were communicated to everyone and three CCC workers were part of the bargaining team.
“We had discussion, meeting with every department separately, every individual to tell them the new arrangement,” he stated. “The union had meeting with them, I don’t know what the discussion was about but they had meetings with them.”