As of today, Monday, March 18, 2013, government workers represented by the Civil Service Association (CSA) will take strike action until their employer gives them what they desire: 9.5 percent wage increase or a suitable alternative offer.
Today’s industrial action does not involve nurses, teachers, police officers, and fire officers because unions representing those civil servants have agreed to the government’s four-percent wage package.
The CSA decided to strike during a closed meeting with members at the CSA Centre in San Souci, Castries on Friday, March 15.
Explaining the reason behind the industrial action, CSA President Mary Isaac told reporters on Friday that members do not get some of the benefits other groups, such as teachers and police officers got, so they cannot sign off on a four-percent increase.
Isaac said CSA members feel disrespected and unappreciated. She said the strike will last indefinitely with hopes that the government would reconsider its decision.
Though the CSA is the only trade union under the Trade Union Federation (TUF) umbrella that has not signed a deal with the government, Isaac said some of the other union members support their cause because they are aware that CSA members are not entitled to some of the benefits that they have been given.
The civil servants first made their intentions to strike known at a meeting on Wednesday, March 13. In the minutes of that meeting the CSA rejected the four-percent wage increase with conditions proposed by the Government Negotiating Team (GNT), saying the “conditions highlighted by the GNT was more of a ‘smoke screen’”.
According to the minutes of the meeting: “There was nothing concrete in their proposal that satisfied the members. It was more like ‘empty’ promises presented to civil servants. Also, the members noted that accepting the four percent increase will not be beneficial to officers in grades 1 to 5. Yes, the teachers and police may be willing to accept this offer but bear in mind that these officers’ salaries start at grade 7.”
It added: “Another point to note is that all members, which fall under the TUF (Trade Union Federation) umbrella must all agree to a common decision in order for negotiations to come to closure. The information provided by the media by certain individuals was used as scare tactics so that the other unions accept the 4 percent.
“Finally, we the members of CSA moved a motion that we are willing to settle for 9.5 percent increase without conditions this time around. The GNT and TUF are to meet some time tomorrow (Thursday, March 14) to consider our proposal. On Friday (March 15), CSA members plan to meet again to discuss the outcome of the said meeting (GNT/TUF) and if we are not satisfied with the result we strike (shut down the country).”
According to the minutes of the meeting, conditions which “we initially requested will be negotiated at the next round 2013/2016”.