(SNO) — National Security Minister Hermangild Francis is expressing surprise that firefighters on the island went on strike earlier this week, saying they knew a meeting was to be held with the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) later in the week.
The Saint Lucia Fire Service Association said it was taking industrial action from Wednesday, March 13 over the issue of salary negotiations for the 2016 to 2019 triennium and other matters facing the fire service, which it said was dragging on for way too long.
But Francis said the GNT was expected to meet with the firefighters on Thursday which was known by the association.
“They knew that,” he told DBS TV on Wednesday. “I found it strange that he (President of the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association, Shane Felix) to the public service indicating that they want to have consultation with the GNT.”
He said the government has already made a proposal to the union representing workers in Saint Lucia, including firefighters.
“The prime minister said very clearly that we made a proposal to the unions,” he stated. “A particular union took it, some of the unions are looking at it, and the prime minister has given the assurance that the offer that we have made, if that offer is accepted, we will go quickly into the next triennium, and by next year when the budget is being prepared we would have known the figures, we will know what we can give the civil servants.”
Francis also said the government has delivered on some changes promised to firefighters.
Several unions on the island have been at loggerheads with the government over a stalemate on salary negotiations for the 2016-2019 triennium.