The Civil Service Association (CSA) says it opposes the 7:00pm to 5:00am curfew now in effect in the country on the basis of its impracticality and takes the government to task for what it claims is a lack of genuine consultation in relation to COVID-19.
The largest private sector trade union on island noted that its concerns, on behalf of its members, stemmed from pronouncements by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and the intention of his government to lengthen the State of Emergency in the country.
Government took to parliament yesterday to extend the State of Emergency to 90 days, a move that has generated feedback from several quarters on social media and one which the Saint Lucia Labour Party vehemently opposed.
“The most recent meeting of NEMAC was a charade as it did not provide any opportunity for incorporating the views of the stakeholders, bearing in mind that the Prime Minister addressed the nation with a prepared speech within minutes of the end of the meeting.,” CSA President Cyprian Montrope noted, referring to the Prime Minister’s address to the nation last week.
He said the parade of individuals purporting to represent the views of the respective stakeholders was viewed as part of a window dressing exercise and an orchestrated effort to give the impression that there is some form of consultation.
“CSA considers the NEMAC meetings as an avenue for conveying decisions already taken by Cabinet or within the confines of the so called Command Center. The CSA will review its position in relation to attendance at such gathering in the future,” Montrope wrote in a release Monday.
He said the CSA’s opposition to the curfew was “on the basis that it is impractical to enforce and therefore will serve no real purpose in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. (And) in establishing the time for the curfew, the government did not take account of workers who must travel to and from work to areas far from their homes, and the difficulties of using public transportation within the limited time between close of work and the start of the curfew.”
“The suggested time of this curfew gives an impression that COVID is a nocturnal menace which can be kept in check during daylight hours but not after dark. In general, it is our view that the curfew infringes on the rights and freedom of citizens particularly as it appears along with other measures to be targeting certain sections of the population,” Montrope asserted.
According to him the CSA believes that the better option for flattening the curve is a total lockdown for a specified period, preceded by an adequate notice period and a package of financial and other form of support to the most vulnerable.
“During the lockdown of approximately seven to 10 days, we must institute a vigourous education campaign to encourage the proper and mandatory use of masks in public. CSA will continue to play its part in promoting the use of masks, physical distancing, washing or sanitizing of hands and encouraging compliance by everyone,” Montrope added.
“After the lockdown, government must be more assertive in restricting the arrival of visitors from high risk countries, exercising greater control at ports of entry and insisting on secondary COVID-19 testing procedures within a short time of arrival, as informed by proper medical advice and scientific research. There is no doubt that the sudden rise in cases is inextricably linked to the lax posture adopted towards visitors and their apparent lack of observance of the protocols at the COVID-19 approved hotels,” Montrope stated, adding that the CSA will monitor the situation closely and will not hesitate to take action as it deems appropriate to protect its members and workers in general from the effects of this pandemic.