President of the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA) Shane Felix has said that his colleagues are not ruling out a strike, especially since they consider government to be dragging its feet on addressing the SLFSA’s concerns on recommendations coming out of the 2013 Commission of Inquiry (COI).
Felix told Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) during an interview today, May 7, that the SLFSA has written the Public Service Commission (PSC) twice on the issue and has not received any concrete response since.
He told SNO that the matter is one of major concern and must be addressed forthwith. Felix reiterated that the discovery made during the COI points to evidence that senior ranks within the fire service were involved in criminal behavior and should therefore be sanctioned.
The SLFSA president related that attempts were made by the association to meet with government officials, but to no avail. However, at present, Felix said that the SLSFA with continue to contact the PSC, which is the responsible agency that could implement sanctions on the officers for their wrongdoings.
The SLSFA head expressed concern over the delay in addressing these issues and said that the slow response speaks to how important or not important these issues are to the PSC and the government at large. Felix alleges that the SLFSA has fallen on deaf ears and despite doubts that they will not go through with taking strike action this is not true.
He however stated that the association is monitoring the situation and will exhaust all means possible before they move towards taking strike action. Members he explained will do whatever it takes to have their grievances addressed.
The COI report into the conduct and management of the Fire Service and senior fire service personnel concluded that the complaints voiced by the SLFSA are well founded.
It also recommended that the government take immediate action to remedy the situation. The commission’s findings against senior officers include, among other things sexual harassment of a female staff member, discrimination and unfair treatment of fire personnel, as it relates to appointment, promotions, insensitivity towards female fire officers who may be pregnant and publicly humiliating fire officers.