CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 16, CMC – Firefighters say they will stay away from their jobs complaining that they were not satisfied with the outcome of a meeting earlier this week with Labour Minister Stephenson King.
“It looks as though we will be home for the weekend because we have not received anything tangible from the authorities,” president of the St. Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA) Shane Felix said.
Felix said while the union was commending King, for his “humble approach” to the talks, nothing had changed.
He said King had promised to get in touch with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and would get back to the association, but nothing has been heard so far, following the talks on Thursday night.
“We were not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. As we have said to the minister ‘We’ve been there before. We’ve received commitments in writing but nothing has happened,’” Felix said.
He said that the two sides discussed a number of issues that the firefighters say have been outstanding for a very long time, including firefighters who are consistently on contract. He said contractual employees have difficulty obtaining bank loans.
Felix said the issue of pension was also a matter discussed at the meeting.
He said that the pension age has been increased to 65, although fire service regulations recognise that when firefighters turn 50, they should be exempted from “strenuous activity”.
Felix said also that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has advocated for firefighters to retire earlier than other public servants.
The SLFSA said that it is schedule to meet on Monday with the Government Negotiating Team to discuss working conditions and fringe benefits.