Friday, April 12, 2024

St Lucia: Public servants vote against offer


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CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 15, CMC – Public servants Friday voted to take strike action after rejecting the latest wage offer from the St. Lucia government.
Hundreds of public servants voted to reject the Kenny Anthony administration’s offer of 4.5 per cent or a four per cent wage hike with conditions, insisting on their demands for a 9.5 per cent increase.
The decision by the public servants comes even as other trade unions representing nurses, firemen, teachers and police, grouped under the Trade Union Federation (TUF) accepted the four per cent wage hike with conditions.
President of the Civil Service Association (CSA), Mary Issac, said that her members had expressed dismay over Prime Minister Anthony’s handling of the dispute, accusing him circumventing the negotiation process and insulting public servants in his two radio and television broadcasts on the issue.
She said that conditions promised by the government were already on the table from previous negotiations and represented more of a smoke screen in the negotiations.
“We have to agree to go through the process, rather than suddenly decided that you are paying no more than four per cent. If we start throwing processes out which is what we have been doing resulting in all the corruption we have, because we throw systems out of the window when it is convenient for us. And we as public servants must not tolerate that because we are the gate-keepers for economic development in this country,” Issac said.
“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 per cent increase would 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 starts at grade 7,” she added.
But in an immediate response Friday Prime Minister Anthony challenged the CSA president to present evidence of government corruption even as he appealed for good sense to prevail in the current situation.
“For me this is a very serious issue I want the President of the CSA to know that government has activated the Integrity Commission and she should present it with information to show how the government is corrupt.
“Government has made it very clear that we are unable to pay any more and I am at a lost to understand why they would think that we can afford more. But the Unions must understand that if they want to do there, I was once a trade union leader too and I am very seasoned in this, so as to prepare the country for any eventuality,” Prime Minister added.
Members of the TUF were meeting on Friday to discuss the CSA position but stopped short of indicating if it would join the industrial action even while expressing solidarity.


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