(SNO) — There is no end in sight, at least for the time being, in a strike by firefighters after they rejected the latest offers by the Allen Chastanet-led government.
A letter, bearing Chastanet’s signature on the latest offers, was promptly rejected by the firefigthers.
Chairman of the Saint Lucia Firefighters Association (SLFA), Shane Felix, said it did not bear the re-conciliatory tone of an earlier meeting with Labour Minister, Stephenson King.
“Firefighters felt from the very outset of the letter, there was no real genuine interest in resolving the issue,” he told HTS News. “There is a focus on firefighters just returning to work, the usual violation of law and so on …”
In the letter, Chastanet said he was writing to confirm a number of things following a meeting between the firefighters and King.
“1. Government expects that the workers immediately return to work in order to correct the breach of the Association’s obligations within the Collective Agreement between the government of Saint Lucia and the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association,” he wrote.
Secondly, Chastanet wrote that his government “is not insensitive to the concerns of the workers/firefighters in the Fire Service with particular reference to the outstanding unresolved matters affecting the staff”.
He pointed out that mindful of number two, and taking into consideration the importance of ensuring the reliability and availability of the services provided by the Fire Department to preserve the health and safety of Saint Lucia, his government has agreed to give immediate consideration to a number of steps to be confirmed by Cabinet.
But the firefighters were not impressed, with Felix saying it only aggravated them.
“Firefighters have rejected the letter,” he said. “It doesn’t portray the sort of resolution that we are looking for and nothing has really changed…”
He stated that the letter spoke about resolving issues but the words used were critical for the firefighters since one context was portrayed by the meeting with King and another completely different one was portrayed by it.
In the meantime, Felix said the strike will continue and a formal response will be written to Chastanet.
“Firefighters have said they will continue to remain at home,” he stated.