Government negotiating team speaks Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
The Chairman of the Government Negotiating Team is sounding a note of optimism ahead of the resumption of wage talks Friday with the Trade Union Federation which represents public sector workers.
Vern Gill is upbeat in spite of the inauspicious start to negotiations last week after union leaders stormed out of the first sit-down in response to the state’s initial offer.
He claims behind the scenes relations have been friendly despite the emotionally charged atmosphere in the public sphere.
From the outset, Gill has been reticent on the specifics surrounding the bargaining process.
The attorney indicates out of respect for the negotiations he is reluctant to comment publicly about what are supposed to be confidential discussions.
Although Gill is uncomfortable with the process playing out in the media, he maintains there is tremendous goodwill among the parties.
The head of the government negotiating team says he does not expect the public debate and media controversy to make his task difficult.
He indicates the banter and byplay, so far has had no direct bearing on the meetings. Gill who is also the President of the Employers Federation explains the length of the negotiations is unpredictable but he hopes it can conclude in a reasonable timeframe.
The government negotiating team was scheduled to meet the National Workers Union which represents daily paid workers on the crucial wage issue on Thursday.
During the opening round of talks with the TUF, the state put forth an initial offer of a one thousand dollar lump sum which was countered by 16 percent wage increase proposal by the TUF.
Traffic police on incidents Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
The traffic Department is calling on St. Lucian motorists to obey the law. The request comes days after the island recorded two major road accidents; one claimed the life of a 32 year old mother of one.
As investigations continue into these latest incidents, the Sergeant in charge of Operations in the Traffic Department- Leontius Joseph is asking drivers to pay more attention to traffic laws.Sgt Joseph is making the appeal, in hopes of seeing an end to carnage on the roads.
In addition to fatal crashes – almost daily collisions is stretching the resources of the Traffic Department.
Sgt Joseph is also encouraging drivers to take advantage of the various opportunities provided to advance driving skills.
Sgt Joseph also commented on the Merit System which has been implemented in countries such as Canada and the US.
He says talks began in the past about implementing the system in St. Lucia and is still ongoing. With this system, a driver who has caused a major accident including death can either lose their license or points that limit their use of the vital document.
NYC on youth crime Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
NYC president, Timothy Ferdinand believes more should be done to educate young people on how to deal with problems in their relationships.
Ferdinand says many times they do not know how to control their emotions during a major argument or problem.
The NYC president says the implementation of measures to educate youth on how to properly deal with these emotional curve balls may help curb some of the criminal activities among them.
Ferdinand’s suggestion comes in the wake of the recent slashing incident involving two teenagers.
19 year old Ashnell Marquis who was granted bail on Wednesday has since been charged with attempted murder and attempted suicide.
He is accused of slashing the throat of his 18 year old ex-girl-friend before turning the knife on himself.
Weeks before a 19 year old woman was remanded to the Bordelais Correctional Facility charged with the stabbing death of her 30 year old boyfriend.
Ferdinand also believes a data based approach to criminal fighting will help to curb the plague.
Saint Lucia continues to record the majority of its crime between young people aged 16 to 35; the demographic represented by the National Youth Council.
New diplomatic ties Story by Carmy Joseph htsslucia.org
Saint Lucia has formalized diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kazakhstan.
A press release from the Permanent Mission of Saint Lucia to the United Nations says Ambassadors Byrganym Aitimova of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Menissa Rambally of Saint Lucia signed the instruments establishing relations on December 5, 2012.
Ambassador Rambally informed her counterpart that Saint Lucia was honoured to be establishing diplomatic relations, expressing hope that despite the distance between the two countries and their different histories and cultures, Kazakhstan and Saint Lucia would strengthen the bonds of friends and cooperation in the future. Ambassador Aitimova also saw the establishment of relations as a critical first step in the strengthening of ties between the two countries.
She hailed the signing as a historic moment and expressed the gratitude of her nation for the formalized ties, and echoed Ambassador Rambally’s sentiments regarding future collaboration and cooperation.
The Republic of Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
It is the ninth largest country in the world by land area and the world's largest landlocked country.
Lying on both sides of the Ural River, Kazakhstan is one of the only two landlocked countries in the world lying on two continents.
Kazakhstan declared itself an independent country on December 16, 1991, the last Soviet republic to do so
Regional construction strategy Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
Deputy Prime Minister, Phillip J Pierre has called on OECS member states to provide support for the construction center.
He made the call Wednesday at an OECS construction seminar held at the Coco Palm hotel.
The Minister says for the past two decades the construction sector has left an indelible mark on the economies of the OECS.
He added the sector has facilitated several employment opportunities for people of the region. The Deputy Prime Minister believes it is very important for the people of the OECS to support such an important sector. Key players in the OECS construction sector who were present at Wednesday’s meeting were further urged to think beyond their individual member states.
The Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Infrastructure maintains the region continues to benefit significantly form construction and the island is no exception.
Ministries of Public Works and Physical Planning Departments from across the OECS attended the consultation along with participants from select construction sector associations in the region.
Rubis gas station Story by
Winston Springer htsslucia.org
In recent weeks, Saint Lucians may have noticed a dramatic change at the service stations which formerly displayed the well known Texaco trade mark.
Rubis West Indies Limited has launched its new brand in St. Lucia with new look gas stations, LPG brand called Rubigas and a new line of lubricants.
It is a French based international private limited company whose West Indies subsidiary in May 2011 acquired the assets owned and operated by Chevron under the Texaco brand in the Eastern Caribbean.
Chief Executive Officer, Mauricio Nicholls wants the Rubis network in Saint Lucia to be perceived as clean, fresh and appealing.
Rubis is also introducing new products into the market including what the company claims is a new generation of fuel additive called “Ultra Tec;” designed to improve engine efficiency.
The company is also promising improvements in the product line of liquefied propane gas cylinders used for cooking in most Saint Lucia households.
The head office of Rubis West Indies Limited is located in Barbados. Over 200 people in 11 countries are employed with the company.
Executives say they are looking to expand their business here and have created a number of new positions.
Health workshop Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
Free medication for hypertensive patients is a major proposal being put forward to the Cabinet of Ministers.
The initiative is part of Phase 2 of the Universal Health Care Program the Ministry of Health is proposing be funded by the Ministry of Finance.
It follows the first phase of the program which provided free medication to diabetes patients.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Merlin Fredericks says Phase 2 is expected to cost less than a million dollars.
Ministry of Health officials say the potential free medication would be accessed in much the same way the free diabetes medication was.
Prescriptions from doctors would be filled by public health facilities like hospitals and health centres.
Assistant Principal Nursing Officer in the Ministry of Health, Juliet Joseph says chronic non communicable diseases like diabetes continue to be one of the lead causes of death on the island.
A non communicable disease is non-infectious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
They may be chronic diseases of long duration and slow progression, or may result in more rapid death such as sudden strokes.
Climate change talks Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
Saint Lucia has been following the climate change negotiations for quite sometime.
Sustainable Development Minister, Dr. James Fletcher says with rising sea levels, global warming and the extreme weather phenomena, Small Island Development States like Saint Lucia will be hurt the most by climate change.
He says there is a need for mitigation pledges that capped the increase in global temperatures at the 1.5oC which is a goal of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
However Dr. Fletcher says despite this goal a recent report has issued a dire warning of a possible rise in global temperature of 4 degrees Celsius.
Dr Fletcher admits the Ministry for sustainable development has not been doing good job in publicizing the work its doing to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Although industrialized countries are the chief culprits of green house gas emissions he says it is important for Saint Lucia to also reduce its carbon footprint.
The government recently announced the switch to more efficient and cost saving LED street lights and aims to cut back on the use of fossil fuels.
Transforming the island into a green economy was a major plank of the SLP’s 2011 campaign manifesto.
Dr Fletcher says there are plans to invest in geo-thermal, wind and solar energy.
He says the recent signing by the Government of Saint Lucia, a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the William J. Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative will give the island access to vast technical expertise and global resources to bolster renewal energy projects.
Despite these efforts, the Minister admits the future of vulnerable SIDS depends on the action taken by industrialized countries.
Saint Lucia’s Minister for Sustainable Development also called on the Doha meeting to amend the Kyoto Protocol to deliver a five-year second commitment period that is ambitious and free of any conditionality.
NICE graduation Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
325 trainees graduated from the NICE Home Help Program on Thursday 29th November.
The group, made up of 324 women and 1 man, underwent over nine weeks of training; the initial three weeks involved productivity enhancement, which was conducted by the NSDC and training in elderly and home help care was carried out by the Ministry of Health over a 6 week period.
An average of 20 people, have been deployed throughout the 17 constituencies since November.
Some specialize in elder care while others are focused on domestic care. Prime Minister- Dr. Kenny Anthony delivered an emotional speech at the ceremony speaking on the important role the graduates will play in the lives of senior citizens.
Dr. Anthony says trust is paramount as participants of the Home Help Program will be allowed to enter the lives of a number of senior citizens in need of care and attention.
He says the nation should be aware of the deplorable conditions under which some of island’s elder folks live.
The ceremony was held at the National Cultural Center on Sunday December 1st.
Didier on pre-school education Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
Following a number of dismal performances at the regional Mathematics Examinations, the Registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council- Dr. Didicus Jules made a call for improvement in the regions early childhood education.
Pre-school education – unlike primary and secondary school – is not state controlled but is instead managed by private contractors.
The call is one supported by the Director of the Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children-FDCC whose organization manages the regional Roving Care Givers Program.
Cuthbert Didier says a standardized approach to early childhood would serve stimulate, and further assist in eliminating many of the social ills facing the region.
The Roving Care Givers Program currently operates in four countries including Saint Lucia. Didier says the program ensures all children, regardless of their economic status get the right start in life.
The Ministry of Education in St. Lucia has been working for sometime towards a standardized syllabus to help develop the early childhood education system.
There is also an Early Childhood Unit in that Ministry that liaises with the private contractors – their training activities include an annual development workshop for pre-school teachers.
Tissue culture open day Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
Members of the general public will be able to take in the works of the Tissue Culture lab. Head of the Plant Tissue Culture Unit- Terrence Gillard says the lab produces goods such as pineapples, dasheen and yam.
Gillard says Friday’s activity will highlight the achievements of the project, funded by the ICDF through Taiwan.
A major part of the Unit is the production of Orchids, which he says has been very successful.
Gillard says Friday’s activity will be held in conjunction with the St. Lucia Floral Society. Plants and flowers will also be on sale. The activity will begin at 9AM on Friday December 7th.
AG Simon on NICE programs Story by Lovely St.Aime Joseph htsslucia.org
NICE in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries on St. Cecelia’s Day launched the National Performance program and Music Video Stimulus program.
Veteran Saint Lucian musician Agee Simpson who has dedicated over 40 years to music has welcomed the introduction of the Music Video Stimulus Package under which artistes, producers, recording labels, sound engineers and bands can apply for funding grants towards the production of music videos.
Simpson says while significant focus has not been placed on developing the arts over the years he is optimistic about what the new creative industries portfolio is trying to accomplish.
Simpson says moving forward; attention must be paid to leveling the playing field within the growing music industry.
He says the open favoritism shown to select artistes while the work of others are simply ignored can never auger well for an industry which in a lot of ways is still in its infancy.
Meanwhile as part of the Creative Industries’ National Performance Program Air and Sea Ports along with other public venues in various towns and villages will play host to an island wide rotation of artists, dancers, poets and the like.
The aim is to showcase local talent while also providing needed income to creative people.
The Trade Union Federation, a body comprising public sector unions like the Police Welfare Association, Civil Service Association and Saint Lucia Teachers Union began wage negotiations with the Government Negotiating team on Wednesday. The talks are part of negotiations for the triennium 2010 to 2013.
It comes days after the TUF wrote a letter to the Prime Minister seeking his intercession on negotiations they say was being stalled by the Government Negotiating team. While most parts of the agreement, had been ironed out, it was the wage talks they were most insistent had to begin and end before December. Civil servants have not stated the percentage wage increase they are pursuing – however government has indicated this is not the best financial time to increase salaries. This as the main Opposition contends the government wants to give workers a 3% increase over the next three years; a charge the government has denied.
Do you think a wage increase for civil servants is justified at this time?