Is the end on sight?

The strike is still on! That was the gleeful cry from a Civil Service Association member at the conclusion of Monday’s meeting held at their headquarters in Sans Soucis. The group had gathered to discuss the government’s response to the association’s demands for a return to the bargaining table. Last week, the Government Negotiating Team sent out a letter to the CSA stating that they were “willing to recommence negotiations with (them) once the members have resumed their normal working duties.”
Prior to the meeting, CSA President, Mary Isaac, said that she was encouraged by the developments but was hoping for more from the GNT.
“Negotiations is about giving and taking. Right now the government is saying to us ‘send the workers back’. The government wants to take something but they haven’t given anything. Calling for a meeting is not giving us anything. It is what
happens at that meeting that will cause the workers to return not just calling one,” Isaac said.
On Monday, she also indicated that they might not be able to make the proposed meeting until they had a chance to talk with their counterparts in the Trade Union Federation.
Most of the members who attended the meeting were decked out in red, a choice that was quite strategic on their part. Isaac explained the significance. “
Red is the trade union colour. It signifies the members who have fought before us, and the blood that was shed in fighting for those rights. This is why we decided to wear it. To stand in solidarity and show that as a trade union we are cognizant of the fact that they fought for the same rights as ourselves.”
However, the irony of the chosen colour was not lost on Isaac. “It is also symbolic in that it is the colour of the St Lucia Labour Party and their motto is pride, freedom, and justice. So they’re saying that the party promised better days and it is a symbol of the better days that they are expecting to come out of this process,” she said.
Exiting the meeting, one member emphatically expressed her support of the CSA’s stance and her fellow members’ participation.
“I am encouraged by the numbers I saw here today. The momentum is there and I can still feel the fire burning. The GNT needs to come with something concrete because we would have defeated the purpose of the strike.”
She then added, “We are definitely prepared to go the distance.”
Another member believed that the strike was overdue.
“It is ridiculous that they have not budged on their position. We deserve to be treated with more respect,” he said.
When reached via telephone on Tuesday, Isaac expressed optimism following her meeting with the TUF.  “Everything went well,” she said.
“We just reestablished that we are quite united and stand in solidarity. We will be responding to the (GNT’s) letter and asking for a meeting because we were not able to make it yesterday.”
The workers have been part of industrial action taken since Monday March 18th in protest of the government’s denial of their request for a 9.5 percent wage increase.

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