St. Lucian firefighters ended 10 days of industrial action when they reported for duty on Friday March 22nd following government’s promise to scrap contracts for temporary firefighters.
Firefighters went on strike on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, after becoming frustrated over the failure of government to address a number of outstanding issues, some of which dates back decades.
Despite reporting for duty, President of the St. Lucia Fire Service Shane Felix says all is not well and government is still expected to address a number of outstanding issues
While the government agreed to discontinue contracts for temporary firefighters and address the other issues within a reasonable timeframe there is still tension among the fire fighters.
Other matters to be addressed at the soonest include a classification of the existing rank structure of the Saint Lucia Fire Service similar to what obtains in the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force that was initially proposed by the association to the previous Government. This is to be implemented on or before May 1, 2O19.
A promotions policy is to be implemented by July, 2O19.
The immediate payment of honorariums to officers performing duties above their substantive rank has also been requested.
The association says the situation which necessitates the continual payment of honorariums can be resolved by including those additional ranks under the establishment of the SLFS to address this problem once and for all.
The association is also calling for the immediate removal of the exemption of firefighters from the provisions of the Employer’s transfer and relocation policy.
Other demands include the exemption of SLFS authorized drivers from licensing fees to be done on or before April I, 2019.
And the association wants the measures to be confirmed in a Cabinet Conclusion by Friday March 29,2O19.
SLFSA officials Monday morning dropped off official letters detailing their demands to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and National Security Minister Senator Hermangild Francis.
Mr. Felix has even accused certain government ministers of victimization and failure to resolve the issues.
Felix was suspended for two months without pay in the past for speaking out on matters affecting the department.
The Fire Service Association says the items listed in its letter have already been implemented in other public sector departments and as such presents no challenge for implementation in the SLFS by the Cabinet of Ministers.