By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – On Wednesday, April 8, the prime minister of Saint Lucia announced a belated so-called ‘Social Stabilization Plan’ in lieu of a competent stimulus plan, while caringly concealed that “government would require public servants to forego between 35 – 60 percent of salary.
The following day “… (b) The Government proceeded to COVID-19 Trade Unions Apr 05 2020 (2) that it would require Public Servants to forego between 35% -60% of salary. The Government further presented a number of scenarios by which this can be accomplished. (c) The Unions indicated their surprise and disappointment with the presentation and further informed government that this matter was beyond the powers of the leadership of the Unions to decide upon. The TUF is ready to work with government … this unprecedented crisis. However, the interests of public servants will not be compromised in that effort.”
Tomorrow April 21, parliament will convene to approve extended ‘State of Emergency’, tourism stimulus and NIC bill, meanwhile it is reported that normal procedures to effect civil servants salaries for the 25 of April has been curtailed by adjoining authorities, awaiting agreement by the Trade Union Federation (TUF), the country’s largest representatives of workers.
In the interim, the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force Welfare Association (PWA) issues a statement, “… the PWA was resolute in its stance on accepting no cuts or deferments to salaries at this juncture. This position was reiterated to the government representatives, including honourable Stephenson King, minister for infrastructure, ports energy and labour and chairman of Cabinet subcommittee on labour.
“We understand that even in the current state of emergency, the prime minister has the authority to legislate salaries. With the sitting of parliament being tomorrow, Tuesday, April 21, 2020, this may become a sad reality for our members.”
In further developments, minister King is scheduled to address the nation at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, on the COVID-19 impact and Saint Lucia’s labour market, “whilst we prepare to jump-start the economy post this pandemic”.
Whereas the minister for labour may reiterate the country’s labour act and the law of the land, evident on April 3, 2020, with the Chamber of Commerce and relevant parties; in a pregnant state of emergency the prime minister holds all the cards.
In the current State of Emergency and extension by tomorrow, power control and dictatorship lie in the hands of the prime minister to execute, as he deems fit, irrespective of how literate and ill-defined his leadership and governance capability over the years.
Tomorrow is a defining day in the history of Saint Lucia. Parliamentarians will have to account for themselves and their stewardship, reminiscent of the manner the opposition leader filed a motion of no-confidence motion in 2018;
“The motion and the anticipated debate, will articulate the deep concerns, anxieties and the feeling of hopelessness among large sections of the Saint Lucian society about the uncaring and irresponsible manner that the business of the country is currently managed.
“We have witnessed a growing abuse of public office, unreasonable and irrational decision-making, unsustainable fiscal deficits, squandering of the state’s financial resources, and a debilitating decline in the public trust and confidence in the prime minister’s ability to govern the country,” opposition leader Philip J Pierre said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the government of Saint Lucia’s true endowments – arriving at a fork in the road.