FLA strike ends but uncertainty hangs over operations

THURSDAY’S end to a two-day strike by workers who are disgruntled over Government’s public sector compensation scheme allowed scores of firearm permit holders to renew licences and conduct other business with the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA).

However, although the FLA employees returned to work, at least two said there was no guarantee that the operations would not be disrupted again with another strike based on the feedback of other workers.

One of the employees, who spoke to the Jamaica Observer at the FLA’s offices in St Andrew, said, “Everything is not good yet. We’re just waiting to see what will happen.”

The other worker pointed out that a number of people had turned up at the FLA when it reopened its doors Thursday morning, which he said is good, but maintained that employees deserve better pay.

“The place full from morning, but I can’t tell you that everything gone back to normal, because a whole heap a people a feel it,” added the worker.

FLA Chief Executive Officer Shane Dalling told the Observer on Wednesday that meetings would be had on Thursday with trade unions to decide the way forward.

However, up to press time Thursday, there was no word from Dalling on what the next step for the FLA would be, as he was still locked in meetings.

Operators of shooting ranges, meanwhile, celebrated the reopening of the FLA offices as it was affecting business for some.

Howard Brown, operator of Woodleigh Shooting Range in York Town, Clarendon, said disruption to operations means that the upcoming bird-shooting season could be affected.

“We are happy about the reopening because people need to process documents in the form of licences, permits, etc. With bird season just around the corner, persons need to go to the FLA to do relicensing and permits. It is a good thing that the matter is being handled. I was listening to the radio and heard the Chief Executive Officer Shane Dalling taking the bull by the horn. We are happy that the matter is being resolved, somewhat, and I hope that it will last and everything can run smoothly,” Brown said.

A representative of the Queensbury Shooting Range in St Elizabeth said it was good that the FLA reopened, as closure was holding up a lot of things, adding that a strike is never a good thing.

“The reopening is good for the industry,” he said.

At the same time, a representative of the Friendly Irons Shooting Range in St James said that no packages for training came in over the two days when FLA employees went on strike.

“Nobody came out to drop packages off. We don’t know what we would have received, but the possibility exists that we would have gotten if the FLA workers were at work over the two days,” the Friendly Irons representative said.

He added that staff of the FLA work hard and deserve to be paid.

Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) President Techa Clarke-Griffiths appealed on Tuesday for the Government to address contract employment issues that have led to division among public sector workers, which includes employees of the FLA. Clarke-Griffiths added that contract workers were being denied equal treatment from the same employer, even though they perform equal work of equal value.

She said the situation was “becoming critical” and invited FLA staff to meet with the JCSA at its Jacisera Park headquarters on Molynes Road in St Andrew.

Among other things, she said contract workers had been receiving lower pay since April 1, 2022.