The cash-strapped Radio Saint Lucia (RSL), which was shut down on July 31 amid government’s plan to reduce debt, will be merged with the Government Information Service (GIS) and some of its displaced staff will have “opportunities” to be employed at that new entity, according to Broadcast Minister Dominic Fedee.
The station was closed due to $3 million in losses and hundreds of thousands in unpaid taxes over the years.
Fedee told media ahead of the closure this week: “We’ve also indicated that we will do everything possible to also get the employees employed where needed in the civil service and also in various statutory bodies where there is a position.”
“I know for example, in one instance, I have personally called the Tourist Board to look at someone for marketing because I know that that individual is very good,” he added.
According to him, staff were to receive their letters at 2 p.m. on July 31, “indicating that the station will be folding up.”
The minister addressed several matters which have been circulating in the media concerning the closure, one of which was the issue of his failure to meet with the Civil Service Association(CSA) – bargaining agent for employees at RSL. Fedee said that he has never received a formal invitation for a meeting from the CSA, despite claims from the organisation that it had requested one.
In late July, President of the CSA Yvonne Edwin had said that the union has unsuccessfully pursued an audience with the minister, citing a May 17 correspondence addressed to Fedee, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the ongoing RSL issue.
As to his involvement in the negotiations and other matters surrounding the closure, the minister said: “I think that ministers are to allow their boards to do their jobs and the board has been doing just that. And I have received my briefs from the board on the various matters and developments pertaining to this issue and that’s how I think it should go.”
He added: “If there is a stalemate or there is a contentious issue which they would like me to intervene I’m still waiting for official correspondence or a communique to indicate ‘well, we’ve reached a stalemate with the board, and therefore we would like a discussion.’”
The CSA earlier this week, had a ride around in the city on trolley trains bearing placards. The minister, in response to this, said: “So today’s protest raises more questions than answers and I certainly will not be deterred by it. But certainly I wanna let you know that we the government we’re doing everything possible to make sure that we satisfy the moral imperative.”
He questioned the CSA’s motives for its “protest” action earlier this week.
“The fact that the NIC contributions of the staff have not been paid for years, aren’t you concerned about that? You’re gonna do a protest while your members, their NIC contributions, have not been paid for many, many years? What have you been doing all along?” Fedee said.
“So this concerns me and I question the motive again and it is worrisome to see this kind of behaviour, and what I have indicated is that our government will do everything possible to bring those NIC contributions up to date, to make sure that we do right by the employees,” he said.
According to him, the RSL board has written to the CSA to detail what will transpire after the July 31 closure.