President of the St. Lucia Senate Claudius Francis has suggested that firefighters, who participated in the recent strike action, should not be paid for the days spent away from work.
Claudius made this statement Monday night on the “In Touch” show, hosted and presented by Press Secretary to the Prime Minister-Jadia Jn Pierre Emanuel, on Choice Television.
“Personally I have a fundamental difficulty with anyone going on strike and getting paid for that period. I don’t oppose the government, if the government decides not to go that way,” he stated.
Claudius noted that from the 390 firefighters employed, nearly 100 of them were on strike. This meant that 290 of them were filling a huge gap because of that strike action.
“You are now telling the 290 that remain… God bless their hearts…that not only are they being rewarded, but that for those of whom they worked are going to get the same remuneration as they did? I think that is a slap in the face to those who stayed on,” he added.
The president of the senate is however of the view that there are cases to be answered on both sides.
“This is a discipline force and you cannot have people breaching rules, regulations and deciding which one is to fall and which one should not,” he said.
“I don’t subscribe to any witch hunt. Disciplinary action has to be taken where breaches of staff order and management have occurred on both sides,” he added.
Touching briefly on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) that was set up to investigate allegations of abuse of power and other matters within the Fire Service, Claudius stated that there were breaches on both sides, and the matters should be resolved in an amicable manner.
A petition was signed by members of the St. Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA) and it was agreed to immediately withdraw their services (stay home), until they were positively engaged in action aimed at speedily resolving the existing issues that continue to plague the fire department.
The firefighters commenced their strike on September 1 and ended it on September 12 after meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Phillip J. Pierre and other government officials.
The SLFSA was promised to have promotions looked into and an election for a new executive conducted.
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony had also announced the secondment of Fire Chief Leslie Fontenelle.