Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Strike Actions in St. Lucia - more thoughts

I hesitate all the time to publish things that may present my countries in a bad light but sometimes, the benefits of being open and encouraging discussion, sharing of opinions, warrants it. So here's a bit more about this 'strike' we have going on in St. Lucia.

Well, the ‘strike’ goes on here in St. Lucia – if it is a strike after all as I swear I heard the President of the TUF say last night that they’re not ‘on strike’ just taking protest actions.

The truth about what’s going on-if there is one-is certainly difficult to pick out of the morass of politically motivated non-information that’s being spouted all over the place.

I spoke to a number of people in various walks of life yesterday– regional political observer, parent, teacher, private sector worker, tourism business owner – and they all expressed the same sentiments: This is ridiculous, effectively over 1% now and in light of the FACT that regardless of how horrendously badly the government is handling the whole debacle, there is a world economic crisis going on. And many expressed annoyance especially with the Civil Service – who have THE most secure jobs, too many of whom don’t perform as well as they should, too many of whom use their work time and connections to develop their own private businesses. That’s a status quo in St. Lucia that shows no sign whatsoever of disappearing anytime soon.

That said, in many Government departments, people were at work, preferring to get their jobs done than be involved in the ‘strike’. The TUF president said that was only because they had their ‘agents’ in the field and at the meetings, informing them on what’s going on, but I couldn’t quite get my head around that logic.

I know at least one teacher wanted to school her common entrance pupils but last minute decided not too in fear of being ‘targeted’ by strikers.

The business person I spoke to was pretty upset about the statement by TUF president suggesting parents should sue the Ministry of Education if their kids went to school based on advice from that Ministry to do so and they got hurt because of lack of staffing…what are the implications of that suggestion? If teachers are at school and a kid gets injured, should the teacher then be sued?

Once again, we are seeing how far St. Lucia yet has to go towards true independence of her people. Too many still doggedly follow and act on the should-be-painfully-obvious politrix of our ‘leaders’ at all levels.

Persons who show genuine intentions of trying to make a difference seem always to fade from the scene, I guess under the overwhelming momentum of the status quo. Far too many everyday people get caught up in ro-ro red-yellow, nobody wins but the big-boys politics that it’s sad we haven’t grown out of yet.

It was though, reassuring yesterday to hear on Timothy Poleon’s Newspin on Radio Caribbean International, that most people expressed some level of fed-up-ness with the political shenanigans and genuine outrage at the apparent sabotage of 3 firetrucks.

There seems to be an overall feeling that encouraging chaos and public disorder is not going to benefit anyone, but that’s in what’s publicly said, I suspect there’s a bit different intentions lurking in some people’s minds, but in the end, despite the nonsense at the extremes, I do see levels of maturity in what many people are saying that show, we are making some headway into our independence even if we still have a long hard pot-hole filled road ahead.

And I feel now, like sharing this example of the propaganda that has been going around – an email I got back on May 5th – and my response:


My Fellow Teachers

Do not be intimidated by the attack on us by Prime Minister Stephenson King, which he called an address to the Nation. The Prime Minister could have addressed the Nation on Economic issues MONTHS ago, if he really wanted to. Hold firm teachers and be resolute in your quest for whats rightfully yours. The Prime Minister and his ministers can stay in the comfortable zones and spew all their poisonous venom all they want, dont let that move you except further in the direction that you are already taking.

The UWP, i meant NWU Union would always settle with their friendly government as the leadership, TYRONE MAYNARD in particular is a well known party hack. The pay cut the PM alluded to is just another fast one he is trying to pull on you to TRY to bring out his ever-dulling point. Why would the PM announce that they have decided to take a pay cut from next month, when GUY JOSEPH has already said that the ministers have taken a paycut from last month?

Teachers, can you trust the Prime Minister? Can you trust Stephenson King? Can you trust Guy Joseph? Can you trust any of teh Ministers? I thought you'd say that. I couldn't agree with you more.

We have a strong and courageous President in Julian Monrose, and a great team of leaders like Wayne Cumberbatch and Don Howell. Let us give them our FULL support and stand behind them solidly. Let us all put on our figurative gideon boots and khaki suits and get out on the streets, hit the road, do what it takes to cause school to re-open and get what is due to us.

Parents, those of you who REALLY care about your students, you too will join the teachers in their quest, which the PM has now made a struggle, for betterment. A better teacher is a better student, and better students make better societies. And I can tell you - a better society will elect a BETTER GOVERNMENT.

Teachers let us ALL unite, stand firm in our common cause. Our fight is a fight for not just us teachers, but for the students, their parents and society as a whole. Do you want to let down the students? Do you want to let down society? Do you want to let down yourself? I think NOT.

WE MUST be ready to do what it takes to get the PM to HONOUR his committments, just as the bank will do what it takes to get us to honour ours. Just as Courts will do the same. And Cable & Wireless, and Spectra, and Lucelec and Wasco and Karib Cable.

Teachers, it cannot be business as usual with the treachery this Government has continually done. We must NEVER be trampled on. Our service to the community is an invaluable one, a SMALL token of 7.5% is not asking for compensation for our duties, we are only asking for a bit of assistance in meeting our committments which have been further burdened by this government. Increase in food prices, gas prices, kereosene, cooking gas, high interest rates, groceries just to name a few.

So Stephenson King can stay at any one of his two homes (that WE pay for monthly, at an estimate of $15 000 or even more) all he wants and spew filfth against us, but are we going to continue to accept our deteriorating condition? Are we going to continually accept mediocrity and wastage in government and be told that it is a global crisis?

Well, TEACHERS I say NO, what do you say?
My Response was:

WOW! I hope people who do take action don’t do it because of Stephenson King- this kind of blatant party-politicization of something that was a problem with Labour government too is shameful - and at the root of why things will NEVER change in St. Lucia until people start realizing their personal responsibility to keep on top of politicians ALL YEAR ROUND, EVERY YEAR, NO MATTER WHAT PARTY.

I seem to remember clearly that teachers pay was a BIG issue when Labour were in- it was shameful then and it’s shameful now.

I posted on my blog that I feel teachers should accept the offer because of the very real economic issues –but I also feel that the country needs to do many other things in order to survive this time (and we have not felt the brunt of the economic problems yet!) I do feel that if the statue of Sir John and the 10million to speed tax refunds is to go ahead (and probably other ‘pork fat), then the teachers are being unfaired.

But to throw St.Lucia into chaos right now is something I would NEVER support especially since it’s just all a ploy to get Labour back in and then the same old same old will just repeat...Time for Lucians to really wake up and realize you get the government you allow to exist - people need to take active political and social responsibility for good governance, a long hard road, but the only one that will make a useful difference.

I do hope the PM sees some sense- he’s being too harsh on teachers – I figure a better plan to pay over time is what would work. Reality is if things don’t improve everyone will be either taking pay cuts or losing their jobs. Lucky for civil servants and teachers that their jobs are much safer than hotel workers.

Best regards


Please share your thoughts and information here
Good overall article on Strike Position as of Tue 2nd June St. Lucia News Online