“We continue to play our part” – gov’t responds to strike action by firemen

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“We continue to play our part” – gov’t responds to strike action by firemen
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony

PRESS STATEMENT – Since the announcement of protest action by the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association, sections of the public have attempted to cast blame at the Government of Saint Lucia for what they describe as “failure to deal with the findings of a commission of inquiry”.

Despite pronouncements made by the Association and others, the Government has attempted to address the lingering concerns, but has done so within the framework of the law. While all sides are interested in a speedy resolution to the situation, it is vital that all rights are respected and due process is followed.

Further to concern expressed by the Saint Lucia Fire Association, the Saint Lucia Trade Union Federation (TUF) has written to Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony in an effort to “seek a solution to the issues in the Saint Lucia Fire Service.”

On August 11, 2014, Prime Minister Anthony responded and explained that the political directorate has done its part to ensure that the concerns raised were investigated. Dr. Anthony wrote,

“The Report and its supporting evidence was forwarded by the Ministry of the Public Service to the Public Service Commission with the recommendation that the Commission institutes disciplinary action based on the entirety of the evidence placed before the Commission of Inquiry. It is my understanding that the Public Service Commission has commenced that process.”

Dr. Anthony further explained that it is not the responsibility the Cabinet to take action against the Chief Fire Officer or any other officer of the public service, but that of the Public Service Commission. The Commission, he explained, is an independent organization. The Prime Minister wrote,

“I wish, however, to emphasize a point repeatedly made to the Fire Service Association. From time to time, the Association requests the Political Executive to take action against the incumbent Chief Fire Officer. The fact is that the Public Service Commission was set up in our Constitution as an independent and autonomous body to protect, or if you prefer, insulate public officers from partisan political pressure. When a call is made to the Government to intervene, then, in effect, the Political Executive is being asked to use its political authority to resolve an issue which properly falls within the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission. This is a fundamental breach of the constitution. It seems to me that the decision of the courts, particularly in the case of Ausbert Regis v. Attorney General of Saint Lucia is neither understood nor appreciated. The Government cannot be called upon to interfere in disciplinary matters and when it does, it is then criticized for political interference. Likewise, it cannot take action to usurp the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission and thereby make itself vulnerable to legal action by an affected party.”

Notwithstanding, the Prime Minister has welcomed a suggestion of a Tri-Partite Committee to review and recommend measures to assist in implementing the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry. Recommendations on the composition of that committee were made to the TUF.

In the meantime, the Government of Saint Lucia continues to review and monitor the operations of the Saint Lucia Fire Service, to avert major disruptions to the operations of the airports and to ensure the provision of basic emergency services to the population.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder why the Public Service Commission cannot act on any of the facts presented in the report presented by the Commission of Inquiry yet, Shane Felix's case is being given priority
    over more serious problems.Its time this Commission Of Inquiry come under some serious fire.

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  2. Ooh Hoo. Well here is some news for you guys and the Government to think about. In SUIT NO. SLUHCV2012/0610 between CHIEF and
    1. THE FIRE SERVICE ASSOCIATION and three other parties

    The High Court in its judgement as to costs acknowleged that the parties (primarily The Fire Chief and the SLFSA) had come to an agreement that they would put their differences aside and participate and take cognisance of an impending Commission of INquiry. IN her Jugement the Master said, and i quote

    "The decision to discontinue was as a consequence of
    the posture taken by some of the parties to the litigation who were involved in
    related proceedings before a Commission of Inquiry convened to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption within the management of the fire services of
    St. Lucia. These allegations had caused a rift between management and the rank
    and file officers and had undermined one of the island’s essential services.Apparently and for the greater good of the country both the management of the fire services and the rank and file officers, agreed to cease the feuding between them, resulting in the culmination of the Commission of Inquiry.

    The other 3 defendants in the case received a substancially smaller amount of cost since they were not directly involved in the fracas. The Master goes on to say and i quote

    "I consider all the submissions made to be relevant to the determination of costs. I found the request for consideration of the greater good of the country to be most compelling. The proceedings at the Commission of Inquiry indirectly impacted the entire country and had been concluded in the most conciliatory fashion. It would not
    auger well for these proceedings to linger with a regretful after taste when the
    issue had been put on such a positive footing."

    So this sustancially the Master making a ruling based on the establishment of a Commission of INquiry and the greater good of the country. Now tell me what would be the result of this judgement or implications of the Commission of Inquiry if its results were not implemented? It would be tanatamount to a perversion of Justice where the Court was lead to believe that this thing would have been settled, thus validating the reduced cost payments to defendants 2-4. Plus not acting in the interest of the country. It may be that Defendants 2-4 would therefore have recourse since they were estopped from claiming their full compensation based on a future event, which is the Commision of Inquiry and the remedies arising. There sre more interesting things in this Inquiry but i leave it for later.

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  3. Govt spitting in our faces again. Guess we voted fir this. All of a sudden he knows the laws. Did he not know it when he sign for Grynberg? Independent my a.. All you make them appoint and renew whoever contract all you want. Take us for fools.

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  4. The public service commission needs to be investigated, they are not doing their work, there are cases upon cases sitting there and nothing is being done, for instance a case with a senior Police official and the individual is still out there...Public Service Commission is a nonsense commission"!!!#@&*

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  5. The Government did not need a COI to remove the Accountant General either.

    Think... It happened round the same time.

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  6. Why are St. Lucians so LAWLESS. If there are procedures that need to be taken to ratify a situation, Why no follow. Looks like St. Lucia is becoming a barbarian state. Even though there are laws and contract set in place. St. Lucians mentality is to break the law. In this modern day and age this what justice is like in St. Lucia. Sorry St. Lucians you all are the Pharases. White washed tombs with dirt and empty inside. AGAIN WHERE IS JUSTICE IN ST.LUCIA.

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  7. When? I cannot wait to see us pack this country-bookie back to his hinterland.
    Saint Lucia Mr. Man is not a plantation. That is even though you only know how to operate on one, and to bark out orders as if you are talking to black African slaves straight from the bellies of slave ships.
    Go and find yourself a plantation, Massa. Massa day done!

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  8. The Government did not need a COI to remove the Comptroller of Customs. Now you have a COI making recommendation and you are talking about legal implication. Is this double standards or taking us all for fools?

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  9. Disciplinary action against Mr Felix was allegedly instigated by a senior Fire Service officer, who himself was under investigation during the inquiry for his very unprofessional and ghastly behavior toward a female fire officer from the south. Why is action toward one supposed transgression so swift and sudden and the Senior officer who allegedly abused his authority is left untouched? Why is he not being disciplined too? The injustice is rife. Government is turning a blind eye and are acting like we are on a damn sugar plantation!

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  10. This is wrong!!!!! why the hell are fire men want the chief out so badly? It must be that the chief is doing something right. Lazy buggers

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  11. Paragraph 4 speaks of an investigation. What investigation? I thought the COI was an investigation. What I think should have happened is that since the Fire Service Ass.(FSA) was the one who requested the COI, on completion it would presented to cabinet and they presented to the FSA explaining to them, the process and plans in dealing with the COI. The FSA is aware of the legal implication when acting on recommendation made in a COI. They are also aware that there are information in the COI which may have individual/s arrested. I believe the TUF is a scapegoat for the government. Hence, why the FSA should remove themselves from the TUF like the CSA did.

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  12. When it's convenient the government cannot place undue pressure on the Public Service Commission. This is St. Lucia the government can do anything it wants. Ive learnt that the hard way!

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  13. Mr.Prime minister the public service commission need to be decommission because they are the root of the problem.You mean up to now they cannot implement one recommendation for so long and they want to take disciplinary action against Felix for something they say happened in December.This could have been as a direct result in their in action to resolve pressing issues that affect the department.One thing i know administration is not for everyone.The firemen and women are obviously are not well mentally,emotionally,psychologically,spiritually,and physically and you expect them to function efficiently and effectively.Which planet are u from? The firemen and women have my full support.Total madness!!!

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  14. Who pays the firemen and who is responsible for their wellbeing. So no matter how the spin DOCTOR try to twist the situation his government is still responsible for it.

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  15. This government is allegedly proudly and openly hostile to workers. All parts of the public service are characteristically HOSTILE WORKING ENVIRONMENTS. Workers cannot be expected to take the blows of their foolish employers on the chin all time.

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