Although there were smooth transactions at some government offices on Monday, reports indicate the individuals seated at the various desks were non-CSA members or substitutes brought in by the state as part of a contingency plan.
President of the Civil Service Association, Mary Isaac confirms the start of protest action by civil servants, who voted in favor of industrial action on Friday after government, did not accede to their wage increase demands.
The decision comes after months of deliberation over wage increases for members of the public service including civil servants who are the bureaucrats and administrators who run government departments and process paper work.
Although the majority of the other public sector unions such as fire officers, nurses, and teachers have accepted the government’s 4% offer, civil servants have instructed the CSA executive to reject the offer and hold out for the maximum 9.5 percent proposal.
Isaac believes some of the contingency measures put in place by the government could be to its detriment.
Some government offices, such as the Civil Status Registry opened later than usual due to the ongoing industrial action.
Isaac says the absence of civil servants will shed light on the raging debate about the productivity of the public service.
The CSA, aligned with the Trade Union Federation, is awaiting word from the TUF President on the recommencement of negotiations.
Civil servants have remained unyielding on a 9.5% increase, in spite of pronouncements by Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony of the government’s inability to grant them a substantial wage increase due to fiscal challenges.
Isaac says she hopes good sense will soon prevail on the part of the government, to end the impasse.
Chamber condemns strike Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture says it categorically condemns the Civil Service Association intended strike action after rejecting the latest wage increase offer from Government Negotiators.
In a Press Statement, Monday, the Chamber of Commerce says it strongly believes that the parties must work to resolve this impasse.
The Chamber says it has noted that all other members of the TUF have arrived at an agreement with the Government and applauds the negotiators on this success.
It also encourages the use of the Arbitration process as part of the continued negotiations and says neither strike action nor the backtracking on offers previously on the table is helpful in arriving at a conclusion.
According to the statement, “The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the entire private sector of St. Lucia wishes to remind the CSA that St. Lucia, like many countries globally, faces difficult and unprecedented economic challenges, which call for reasonableness and responsibility at this time.
The economy cannot afford the impact of industrial action, nor should we subject the citizens and the economy to such action.”
The Chamber says it is unacceptable for a small group to hold the entire country hostage to achieve their narrow interests.
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture urges the CSA to do the responsible thing, call off the strike, and return to the negotiating table.
SLISBA calls for reason Story by Vanda William htsslucia.org
President of St. Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association (SLISBA), Flavia Cherry calls for an end to the ongoing wage dispute between government and public servant workers.
She says the country already racked by a downturn in economic activity can ill-afford the protracted industrial relations controversy.
Cherry says that presently the world business climate is fraught with difficulty and the majority of small enterprises here are feeling the pinch.
According, the SLISBA President any disturbance now further undermines efforts to get the sluggish economy back on track.
The small businessperson believes this is not the time for industrial disputes especially involving public workers.
Members of Civil Service Association (CSA) began strike action Monday demanding their employer; (government) cave on a desired 9.5 percent wage increase or a suitable alternative offer.
Kenny on Venezuelan ties Story by Jade Brown htsslucia.org
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony says he felt honored to represent Saint Lucia at the solemn funeral service of the former President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez.
He says it is indicative of the friendship and special bond shared between Venezuela and Saint Lucia.
According to the Prime Minister, the relationship transcends political parties.
Dr. Anthony is not worried about the future of the PetroCaribe oil deal for the next 4-5 years and expressed confidence in the Vice President of the Venezuela Nicolas Maduro.
Saint Lucia recently announced plans to sign on to “The PetroCaribe” arrangement, which provides oil to Caribbean states at concessionary rates.
Dr. Anthony believes the Vice President of Venezuela is committed to the Caribbean and holds the region in high regard.
However, even with the sympathy vote, pundits say a victory for Maduro, Chavez’s lieutenant in a snap presidential election is not a foregone conclusion.
Despite the domestic politics, the key for Saint Lucia, Dr. Anthony asserts is to maximize the rapport with the South American country.
The Prime Minister says Venezuela was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with Saint Lucia when it attained independence in 1979. He says the two countries have always had a close relationship even during the John Compton-led era.
Fire destorys 2 homes Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
A raging fire on Bridge Street fire in Vieux Fort razed a house to the ground leaving one family homeless.
An adjacent structure also incurred extensive damage but fire fighters were able to bring the blaze under control.
The Fire Service received the emergency call at approximately 9:30 Sunday night. Acting Divisional Officer, Joseph Joseph says the department deployed two appliances and an ambulance to the scene.
Joseph says the southern division was busy all weekend with a series of bush fires ignited naturally by the searing heat and some instances by an ill-advised public.
He called on citizens to desist from the practice of setting fires during the dry season. Joseph says responding to these fires diverts resources away from real emergencies like the house fire on Bridge Street.
The official says the cause of the house fire is currently under investigation. Fortunately, there were no injuries associated with the blaze.
He also commended the fire fighters who fought a courageous battle to stave off further damage to nearby buildings in the densely populated area.
Police News Story by Press Release htsslucia.org
Major drug Bust
On Friday 15 March 2013, about 9:00 pm, Officers attached to the Marine Unit of the southern division intercepted a blue, orange, and black pirogue “Von Von” registration number J7 114 MHT.
The pirogue was intercepted about 8.2 nautical miles south of Gros Piton, Soufriere within the territorial waters of Saint Lucia.
The pirogue was boarded and a search was conducted on it as well as its two occupants who were two Dominican Nationals. The Officers recovered 1,487.2 pounds of cannabis. Both men were arrested and taken into custody. The drugs were seized by police. Charges are expected to be laid against them at a later.
Missing child Story by Jade Brown htsslucia.org
Disheartened Father Boniface Goracksingh paid a personal visit to the HTS studio Friday morning.
He is making a public appeal for assistance to locate the whereabouts of his missing daughter.
Boniface says 13-year-old Gaynor Goracksingh left home over a week ago bound for the Victoria Hospital.
He says the minor was en route to the healthcare facility for a
medical exam in connection with a separate police matter. Boniface Goracksingh’s says anyone with information on the disappearance of his daughter should call 727 8681 or contact the nearest police station.
Local jazz line up revealed Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
Additional star power has been added to the line-up of the revamped Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival.
Jamaican dancehall reggae artiste Garfield Spence, AKA Konshens will headline the much-anticipated opening, slated for April 30th at the Mindoo Phillip Park.
The St. Lucia Tourist Board has released the long awaited line up for the official opening of the Jazz season, which includes a
number of household names. Public Relations Manager John Emmanuel says the curtain raiser continues to serve its purpose, which is to portray the region's talent and art.
Emmanuel says the Jazz and Arts Festival continues to attract versatile national acts to its 2013 line up.
He says, organizers have responded to incessant calls over the years for the inclusion of local talent on the main stage.
With that said, Recording Artiste, Emrand Henry is down to perform alongside headliner and international star R. Kelly.
High fashion casting call begins Story by Jade Brown htsslucia.org
Celebrity and fashion Guru Vincent McDoom commends the efforts of the SLTB. He says there are many avenues for employment with the new component of the Jazz and Arts festival
“She Magazine” Publisher, Mae Wayne says Saint Lucia has an abundance of raw talent. From her perspective, considerable effort is required to educate aspiring models about the fundamentals of runway modeling.
Wayne explains the critique should not been viewed as an affront to existing model agencies here in Saint Lucia, however many young women are misguided about the fashion industry. She says prudent advice is essential.
The SLTB has transformed the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival into the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts festival.
Organizers say locals and visitors should expect a more dynamic and culturally diverse showpiece come April 30th .
One of the new dimensions is the arts component featuring the hot couture fashion show scheduled for May 7th at the Main stage concert
Another casting call will take place at the Kimatrai Hotel in Vieux Fort on Wednesday March 20th 2013 from 11am to 4pm.
PM passports Story by Vanda Brown htsslucia.org
The government of St. Lucia has accelerated the implementation of machine-readable passports.
During a town hall meeting in Toronto, concerned audience members from the Diaspora raised the issue of the imposition of a visa regime for travel from Saint Lucia to Canada.
Canadian authorities had raised alarm over allege immigration violations and passport security prior to the Visa requirements.
The Prime Minister explained local authorities are addressing the issue and speeding up the introduction of machine-readable travel documents to reduce the incidence of passport fraud. Dr. Kenny Anthony says a special team is overseeing the process.
Dr. Anthony concedes some St. Lucians change their names in order to obtain new documents to travel to the UK, Canada, and the US through a legal process called a deed poll.
While, he believes it is the legal right of an individual to do so those who are law-abiding citizens should be candid about the adjustment.
The Prime Minister believes reforms will help improve security and the integrity of the process especially from lawbreakers.
Dr. Kenny Anthony asserts the issuance of the computer friendly documents, which are in keeping with international requirements, is also important with the EU signaling the intention to waive Visa requirements for travelers from Saint Lucia and other territories to the Economic Bloc. Canada imposed a visa regime on visitors from Saint Lucia in September 2012.
Flood MOU signing Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
The National Emergency Management Organization formalized plans to develop a system for flood hazard mapping in the Corinth area.
NEMO, St. Lucia Red Cross, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the government of St. Lucia and the two leading providers of Telecom Services in St. Lucia- Digicel and LIME all participated in the MOU signing ceremony on Wednesday.
The signing signals the participation of the organizations in the establishment of the system, which will provide early warning of flash flooding in that area.
The MOU forms part of the Caribbean Disaster Management Phase 2 project implemented in five countries around the region. JICA Representative in St. Lucia- Dani is looking forward to the expansion of the project.
The St. Lucia Red Cross, which actively pursued the MOU, also expressed interest in the expansion of the project. Four communities were shortlisted with Corinth being chosen to begin the process.
The project’s objectives also involve enhancing the capability of community Disaster Management and enhancing recognition of the importance and usefulness of hazard maps and Disaster Management plans among member states.
NEMO Director, Dawn French says they hope to complete the process in three other communities in the near future.
Digicel Country Manager, Holly McNamara, also expressed enthusiasm about the project. The signing ceremony took place during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office on the Waterfront.
UWI students visit Story by Vanda William htsslucia.org
Two young Stats ambassadors from the University of the West Indies are paying a courtesy call on the Prime Minister of St. Lucia.
Matthew Gibbs and Kendal Alva from the St. Augustine and Cave Hill Campuses respectively are both here to promote the UWI.
St Lucia Outreach and Marketing representative, Leslie Crain Mitchell says during the one-week visit the duo will visit
secondary, tertiary, and open campus students to encourage them to pursue higher education at UWI. Mathew Gibbs, a Trinidadian says the goodwill trip is about promoting regional pride and integration.
He says the experience has been interesting and students have been receptive to the idea of attending the university.
Kendal Alva, a St. Lucian says the purpose of his visit to the Prime Minister is to convey the message, the need to increase the number of Saint Lucian students on the UWI campuses.
Alva says he has benefitted immensely from studying at UWI because it has sharpened his leadership skills as well as his knowledge in social work.
He says he has gained a deeper appreciation of the Caribbean as a region and believes the CSME and other key issues deserve more prominence in the national discussion.
Growell reading program Story by Vanda William htsslucia.org
Growell Incorporated, which is an organization, formed in 1995 has unveiled a remedial reading program to parents.
The Program launched in July 2012 helps improve the literacy level among infants in the Gros Islet community.
Public Relations Officer, Tracy Warner Arnold says the organization identified reading as a major deficiency and launched the after school program to assists struggling infants.
Peace Corp Volunteers, Mr. Tobias, says parental support and involvement is paramount. He hopes to extend to the program to primary schools and other communities around St. Lucia.
Growell Incorporated which engages in a number of activities also serves the island’s senior citizens and young mothers.
The organization provides computer classes for the working public. Teachers who volunteer their time to give back to the community facilitate the remedial classes.
The Trade Union Federation, a body comprising public sector unions like the Police Welfare Association, Civil Service Association and Saint Lucia Teachers Union began wage negotiations with the Government Negotiating team on Wednesday. The talks are part of negotiations for the triennium 2010 to 2013.
It comes days after the TUF wrote a letter to the Prime Minister seeking his intercession on negotiations they say was being stalled by the Government Negotiating team. While most parts of the agreement, had been ironed out, it was the wage talks they were most insistent had to begin and end before December. Civil servants have not stated the percentage wage increase they are pursuing – however government has indicated this is not the best financial time to increase salaries. This as the main Opposition contends the government wants to give workers a 3% increase over the next three years; a charge the government has denied.
Do you think a wage increase for civil servants is justified at this time?