(SNO) – Angry or bewildered Customs and Excise officers who believe they may lose their jobs as a result of the coming into existence of a Border Control Agency, as mentioned by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet on several occasions, need not worry any more as their jobs are safe.
The reassurance came from the prime minister himself at yesterday’s pre-Cabinet press briefing where he told reporters that this was never on the agenda of his government.
“Any solution that requires people to be sent home is not something my government will consider. I know of no proposal that suggested anybody would have to go home,” Chastanet said, referring to allegations suggesting that officers employed with the Customs and Excise Department would be asked to resign and re-apply for positions in the new entity called the Border Control Agency.
These allegations seem to have frightened officers to the point where they sought advice from their bargaining agent, the Civil Service Association (CSA) which met with them last week to hear their grievances.
CSA’s General Secretary Claude Paul reminded that while the prime minister spoke of no job losses in the four entities to be merged to form the Border Control Agency, namely Customs and Excise, Immigration Department, Marine Police and the Quarantine Department, it was basically the same language he seems to have spoken with regards to Radio St. Lucia which no longer broadcasts on a commercial basis, the Tourist Board. which has morphed into the St. Lucia Tourism Association, and other entities.
Paul spoke of an air of uncertainty amongst workers whenever the prime minister speaks of either closing down or transforming their work places.
Last week’s meeting of Customs and Excise officers at the CSA headquarters in Sans Souci was primarily about officers asking of the union to seek answers to the uncertainty amongst them regarding their jobs.
Chastanet envisaged that not only will those persons working in the four entities to be merged into the Border Control Agency not lose their jobs, but that the Customs and Excise Department, which will be taking over the role of persons in the Immigration Department, will be an upgraded version of its current self when the transformation is done.
“There is nothing envisioned that anybody is being dislocated or sent anywhere else. Customs would be upgraded not downgraded. We don’t see anybody being sent home,” Chastanet reiterated.
A transitional committee just recently made a presentation to Cabinet, explaining, among other things, the regulatory and training requirements needed for the creation of the new entity.
It is envisioned that police officers attached to the Immigration Department will go back to being police officers, Customs and Excise officers will absorb the Immigration Department and that of Quarantine while the Marine Police will remain as it.
“Police officers will no longer be performing the function of immigration. So Police officers will go back to their substantive posts on the beat. We are excited about that because we would like to see more policemen on the road. I would have like to see that already but given the lack of software systems we have not been able to do that,” Chastanet said