HEAD of the Castries Constituencies Council (CCC), Mayor Peterson Francis, is not backing-down from anyone or any organization it seems, as this week he took on the General Secretary of the Civil Service Association (CSA) over the latter’s dismay at the Council’s inability to meet last month’s salaries payments on the usual day, November 25/26.
Francis, who is lined-up take the oath of Mayor tomorrow for the second time ( councilors are set to be sworn in in the forenoon ) have shown a tendency to make his feelings known whenever he feels the Council, or himself, is being targeted undeservingly.
Well-documented were his feelings about an inquiry into the operations of the Council earlier this year. Last month he had this big public spat with Police Commissioner Severin Monchery over a meeting, which, though booked, never took place between them.
Today, Mayor Francis has General Secretary of the CSA Claude Paul in his sights and is again shooting from the hip, claiming that Paul attacked his office with assertions that the Council could not pay its monthly-paid workers on time last month.
After noting that workers were paid, not on the usual day but before December came into the picture and contrary to what Paul said, Francis and Chief Executive Officer Wilbert Pierre noted that there is nothing in any agreement with workers stating that they should be paid on a particular day – as is the case with government workers.
Mayor Francis said it would have been ideal for Paul to have spoken with him first before making such claims.
“It is only convenient, because they believe politics comes before the welfare of workers.
“I must bring to the General Secretary’s attention that since I took the oath over two years ago, not once has staff of the Castries Constituency Council gone on strike. Let me remind him too that strike action by staff was a common feature at the CCC,” Francis said, referring to times before he took office.
The mayor identified some of the works performed by the Council that are beneficial to staff, such as the recent signing of a new accord to benefit workers for a period of three years, which includes a new payment structure and salary adjustments based on classifications for the first year, a three percent general wage increase in the second and third years.
“It also included employee benefits such as Education Leave, Overtime, Bonuses, Duty Stipends, Industrial Accord and Punitive and Grievance Procedures, among other things. With that said let me bring some light on the unproven late payment of staff salaries and allegations that CCC coffers are empty,” Francis said.
He questioned Paul’s motive for raising that particular issue which as far as Francis is concerned, is a non-issue. Francis wonders whether Paul wants to enter politics.
CEO Pierre was just as stunned and flummoxed as Mayor Francis with Paul’s comments of inability of the CCC to pay monthly workers in a timely manner.
A former trade unionist who held the exact same position Paul now holds, in the same organization, Pierre said he was surprised by Paul’s comments, calling it “an attack-dog approach.”
He said trade unions dealing with employers and employees must first assess a situation before making comments as was done in the case of Paul.
“Paul has this attack-dog approach in every situation. As a former General Secretary of the CSA, I represented these very same workers at the CCC. We have not had a problem with late payment of staff. I explained to Paul we do not have a specific day (like government) to pay, where employees have a legitimate expectation.
“I told him we must meet to set a day for payment. He agreed with what I said, but the next day he comes and accuses the CCC of a lot of things, which are all lies,” Pierre said.
Pierre said that as a Trustee of the CSA he will not sit on his laurels and let Paul talk like this. He also promised to speak with Paul on the matter — and his approach to the situation.