Monday, April 27, 2009

Strike Action in St. Lucia

As I listen to the reports from St. Lucia of Civil Service strike and protest actions over contracted increases that the Government finds now that it cannot pay, I am left with a lot of conflicting feelings. I am not happy with our current Government, neither was I happy with the last – so I am not politically biased. I am politically frustrated, but this is not about politics.

My first thought is, I am wondering if the ‘insult’ to public servants that was laid on them by the Prime Minister’s extremely late notification that increases could not be paid, really justifies inflicting even more economic and social stress on the country.

I mean, even the most head-in-the-sand person must have some idea that the World is struggling, institutions crumbling and businesses going bust over the economic mess caused by the greedy, lawless strain of profiteering that has been allowed to grow and take a choke-hold of the world.

Even if how and why the collapse can and did happen is not understood, you gotta be aware that it exists and people, businesses, governments are all finding themselves in positions where they cannot meet their financial commitments.

Looking back a bit at another recent issue:

When I first heard the Petroleum Dealers pushing for more of a share of the profits on sale of gas, my instinct was to think they were just being greedy. When I heard how little they made on each gallon, I started to try to estimate how much they might make in a day and was surprised at how little it came to. But I could still fully understand why the government would be reluctant to give up the income from tax.

And the cost to the people? Well, that’s an easy call – give up your gas-guzzling, environment damaging, road stressing big ‘ol vehicles and drive gas efficient, easier to park, smaller cars.

But back to the civil servants. Who should take saving action this time? Is it the people who have to and can deal with the economic stress here?

Teachers, I learnt from my brief 5 years, always find themselves in a predicament; You’re really torn between your needs and the needs of the kids – and at this time, with CXC, Common Entrance and even promotion exams. On top of that it’s Budget time.

What a time to be asked to choose.
What a time for action to be very persuasive.
But at what cost?
And based on what considerations?

All in all, for my 2c worth, I think this isn’t the time for protracted action. Much as the 'might' handed the strikers by circumstance is undoubtedly huge, and many too many times before, perhaps resistance was forgone ‘for the better good’. I think if you look at the reality around us, 3% or half now, and a review in 6 months is a decent offer in the circumstances.

What this highlights in my mind once again, is that it would be a welcome change is if St. Lucians found the time and impetus not to go back to inaction in between this and the next crisis. If they found the courage to take on more regular pubic analysing, more public constructive criticism, more public forums, more public responsibility for their own lives, own power, own future.

We GIVE way too much power over our lives to those supposed to be in Office for our good and the good of the Nation. WE give it. It is us who need to take responsibility for our lives, no matter how difficult the circumstance.

We need to be on the lookout, be constantly analyzing what is going on, constantly requesting clarification. Less based on Party, more based on across the boards standards.

Taking responsibility is walking on the road to genuine independence. The two go hand in hand and cannot exist without each other.

In my humble opinion, it was right to stand up to the insult, but the country now needs the Civil Service back at work. It's a world-wide recession, this is not just about local politics.

But after this crisis, keep asking yourself what part you can play in whether it happens again or whether you can do something to secure at least your own independence.

If each person does that, the country becomes a stronger place to be.



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5 comments:

  1. You have really summed this up nicely. Both the past and previous government disgust me, but I honestly don't agree with the teachers. Yes, the Government needs to cut down on their expenses in areas such as the improper use of SLG vehicles, and cracking down on drivers who take advantage of the concessions available for FAR vehicles. On the other hand, the teachers need to realize that we are going through a global economic meltdown and they should be even grateful that they have jobs and are receiving an increase in pay (no matter how small it may be). Half a loaf is better than none ...

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  2. thanks Tamicks,

    Since writing this post I've heard a lot about items in the budget that seem less important than Civil Service and Teacher pay...but it's so difficult here to cut through the political play and there's never enough info that is available for proper, unbiased analysis.

    I hope we see change in St. Lucia away from the 2 party system and towards people being more individually confident and responsible. I see there's obviously very divided opinion as lots of people haven't been striking today.

    The problem is when everything is made a political ploy, or made to seem that way, it makes any real cause impossible to see. We need to scrape off the mote from our eyes.

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  3. Thanks for writing this post. I feel the same way but I am just hoping that everything will be well soon. Hopefully!!

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  4. Hey Johnny, that'd be nice! I confess I feel we are a bit far from that goal still, but I see changes and so there's hope...

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  5. well it is happening again in 2013

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