Is recalcitrant CSA demonstrating more poor taste?

The unshakable faithful have never doubted the Biblical admonition that “those that take the sword shall perish by the sword.”

That is not to say Scripture’s godliest had not themselves slaughtered millions, including innocent women and little girls and boys, whether with bow and arrow, cutlass, smart bomb, killer chemical or a crucifix. How else could the prophecy according to Matthew 27:52 have been fulfilled?

Presumably, and only in the best interests of prophecy, even the determined defenders of God’s holy name had themselves also paid the price attached to picking up the sword. Of course those who tend not to swallow Scripture save with a fistful of salt will be equally dismissive of Galatians 6:7, wherein is to be found the following: “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Perhaps they consider more useful the words of Shakespeare, whose Macbeth had pronounced the fate of those who would seek to profit at the expense of others: “That we but teach bloody instructions which, being taught, return to plague the inventor.” Sounds familiar? It should.

Just this past weekend, in relation to the on-going wages war between the public service and the people’s elected representatives, I’d had cause to cite the quoted line. And now I am twice reminded of the Bard’s indisputable wisdom. The first reminder is taken from a front-page story in the STAR of October 2009, entitled “Newly-elected CSA President says: Public Service Strike was in Poor Taste!” The quoted union leader was none other than Mary Isaac, whose membership is at the worst of economic times locked in a month-old battle with the Kenny Anthony government over what had started out with a demanded 15% increase in public service wages.

The recalled story opens with a shocking revelation. Referring to working conditions under a recently-elected Stephenson King government, this is what Ms Isaac told then STAR reporter Jason Sifflet: “Some of the places where our members work, I will not even go there. Not even animals should inhabit some of these places!” (Then foreign affairs minister Rufus Bousquet had at great cost to his political career expressed similar sentiments while defending his move from offices in the city to far more expensive plush premises in the island’s north . . . but that’s for another show!) Isaac, whose election on October 17, 2009 as the CSA’s first female president had made her a magnet for reporters, was at her first press conference in no mood to take prisoners. She blasted her immediate predecessor Joseph Doxerie, suggesting he’d had good reason not to oppose her candidacy.

He had become “very unpopular since the last strike,” said Isaac. The whole thing was, she said, “was all done in poor taste and went downhill from there.” Regardless, the strike had delivered the CSA’s demands. But Isaac went further. Change was needed in the government’s employment procedures, she said.

“For permanent secretaries to be political appointees and administrative heads at the same time,” Isaac observed, “is an oxymoron. Sometimes you get a PS who is a good fit for a ministry. Then there is a reshuffle and someone else is sent to replace him. In the end no one is happy.” Returning to the strike that earlier she had deemed a demonstration of “poor taste,” Isaac said, “it could’ve been avoided.”

Moreover: “The government had no business offering a 14.5 percent increase to civil servants, given the economic climate.” In Isaac’s view the Doxerie-led union had a responsibility to assure itself the deal struck was feasible. “The government assured the union that the money to pay for the increase had been identified,” Isaac claimed.

“The government also had the opportunity to say, given the circumstances, it could no longer make the payments. But up to late last year they assured the union they had the money.” While she insisted the protest actions on the occasion were warranted, it nevertheless remained the “union’s responsibility to make only agreements they know can be kept.”

As if further to underscore her point, she added: “Before we enter into agreements we should make certain they are fair and can be implemented. If that had been done it would have made things better, as opposed to the antagonistic approach.” So where does Ms Isaac’s CSA stand today? Is the union reasonably convinced the government can deliver what they are now demanding, albeit much less than the original 15%? Is the CSA united or as is it as divided today as it had been at the time of the Doxerie-led protest demonstrations? Are the economy-destroying sick-outs and go-slows in good taste? Are the involved unions fair to the general public? Will Ms Isaac in the end suffer the price she claimed her predecessor had paid? Evidently there is wisdom in the truism that what comes out of your mouth today can tomorrow bite you in the butt, as doubtless Ms Isaac has discovered. And now to the second reminder that you do indeed reap only what you sow.

It is no secret that the Labour Party throughout its 2011 election campaign had made use of the Internet in ways wildly creative, not to say especially embarrassing to then prime minister Stephenson King and his party. And now it seems those who had picked up that sword

are themselves the sword’s latest targets!

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