PRESS RELEASE ON FIRE
SERVICES DEPARTMENT UNOFFICIAL SICKOUT
On Friday at 2.00 p.m. the
Fire Services Welfare Association requested a meeting with the
Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security.
A meeting was scheduled at
3:30 p.m. which lasted up to 5:40 p.m, with the Deputy Permanent
Secretary. The Chief Fire Officer was in attendance.
The Executive of the
Fire Services Welfare Association wanted a status position on two
Excess Working Hours; and
Removal of Asbestos
from the roof at Central Fire Station.
At the conclusion of
that meeting, the Welfare Association agreed to get a status in
writing by Thursday, October 12, 2006 although they were informed by
the Deputy Permanent Secretary that she would be able to update the
Executive sooner, after discussions on Monday October 9, 2006
with the Permanent Secretary of the Public Service and the
Ministry of Planning who are dealing with these two issues,
The Deputy Permanent Secretary,
Home Affairs and Internal Security apprised the Cabinet Secretary of the
concerns raised and the latter indicated that the Collective Agreement
which speaks to the issue of Excess Working Hours was on the
Agenda scheduled for the Cabinet meeting of yesterday Monday 9th
October 2006. This information was communicated immediately to the
President of the Welfare Association by the Deputy Permanent Secretary
of the Ministry on Saturday, October 7th 2006.
The Honourable Minister of
Home Affairs and Internal Security met the Chief Fire Officer and other
senior staff of the Fire Services Department on Sunday October 8th,
2006 at the Fire Services Headquarters in Castries. The Minister
stressed the need for the senior management of the Service to develop an
appropriate management plan for the manning of the existing Fire Service and
ensuring that both airports – Hewanorra and Vigie are operational. He also
advised that an urgent management meeting with the Permanent Secretary of
the Ministry of the Public Service be held to develop strategies for
resolving the outstanding issues raised by the Association.
A meeting was subsequently held
with the Permanent Secretary of the Public Service, the
Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the
Chief Fire Officer and Chairman and Secretary of the
Welfare Association on Sunday October 8th, 2006.
Full clarification was
provided to the Executive at that meeting on Sunday, which was held at
the Gros Islet Fire Station. The Executive expressed satisfaction
with the position of the issues clarified.
It would appear that the Executive
of the Fire Services Welfare Association failed to communicate this information
to the majority of their members with the result that some Fire Service Officers
did not turn up for work yesterday, Monday October 9th
as they reported sick. It was concluded therefore that the services provided
were affected by a “Sick Out”.
Yesterday, Monday a
meeting was held with the Permanent Secretary of the Public Service, the
Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and members
of the Association and their Executive members. The two
issues were clarified again.
At the conclusion of
that meeting, as was the case on Sunday, Members in attendance
expressed satisfaction with the clarification provided on the two
I must tell you that at
yesterday’s meeting New Issues were raised by members of the
Association. The Permanent Secretary of the Public Service
explained fully to the members the issue in terms of where
things were at on the Payment for Excess Working Hours.
It seemed clear that members
of the Association present were fully appreciative of the information
provided. The Executive of the Association emphasized at all
meetings, that they do not sanction nor did they direct their
members to take any protest action in any form whatsoever. They were
aware that the matter on the Excess Working Hours was referred to in a
Memorandum sent by the Ministry of the Public Service to Cabinet and
the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Public Service had
also informed the Executive that a separate memo which
addressed the issue of Payment for excess working hours was being
sent to Cabinet shortly.
11. It seems clear that sick
leave Certificates submitted by Officers, en masse can be considered to be
‘industrial action’ taken by these officers without the endorsement
of the Welfare Association. It is therefore a ‘wild cat’ action.
The issue of sick leave certificate
appears to be well co-ordinated and calls for a careful examination, as it
raises serious concerns which may speak to the integrity of the Medical
Fraternity. Consequently, we will be referring this matter to the Ministry of
Health for further consideration.
The Government of Saint Lucia will
adopt all measures to ensure that our emergency response service and airports
continue to function and that the security of the country is not compromised.
In the meantime the Ministry of
Home Affairs and Internal Security is co-ordinating efforts with the Chief
Fire Officer to ensure that a deployment plan involving all Officers
reporting for duty regardless of rank will be developed to provide normal
Fire and Emergency Services to the Nation.
The Welfare Association has been
informed of the decisions of Cabinet on the main issues raised. On the issues
The removal of Asbestos from
the Fire Services Headquarters and the payment of excess working hours to
Fire Officers, Cabinet agreed that the Honourable Prime Minister will handle
both issues on behalf of Cabinet.
The Honourable Prime Minister
directed that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security will effect
the removal of the Asbestos from the roof and replacement of the roof of the
Fire Services Headquarters.
Ministry of Home Affairs and
Tuesday October 10, 2006