CSA Waits For More Information on Radio St Lucia's Closure
The Civil Service Association (CSA), the bargaining agent for Radio St. Lucia (RSL) employees, has taken a wait and see approach in light of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s announcement to close the radio station.
Yvonne Edwin, CSA President told reporters that while it is too early for the trade union to decide its next course of action in light of the announcement, her organization will meet with employees soon, and hopes the pending closure will not result in workers retrenchment.
“We have heard there will be some restructuring at NTN (National Television Network). We will not speculate as to whether the staff will be absorbed into NTN. What the restructuring will entail is something we will have to wait for to determine the best way forward,” Edwin said.
Prime Minister Chastanet Tuesday evening during the delivery of his government’s policy statement on the 2017/2018 budget said the radio station appeared to have lost its way and that its financial performance in recent years has been far from desirable.
“As of March 31, 2015, the company’s accumulated losses amounted to $3,362,725 and the company also reported a loss of $515,497 in 2015. The company has failed to meet its statutory requirements by way of wage-related expenses,” Chastanet said pointing out that the radio station owes the National Insurance Corporation $543,000 for unpaid employee contributions and owes the government $231,000 in unpaid taxes, in addition to having a significant accounts payable balance and contingent liabilities.
The government and the CSA have yet to meet to discuss the future of the radio station.
“Dialogue is always the best way of coming to an amicable conclusion. We are going to do the necessary to ensure the necessary communications and dialogue is established as it relates to Radio St. Lucia,” Edwin said.
According to the Prime Minister, when the radio station was established many years ago there were few avenues for disseminating information to the public. The radio was the most widely used tool for mass media and there were very few other radio stations. However, today, the current climate is far different, as the internet, cellphones and television have taken over in terms of communication.
“The airwaves are saturated with radio stations and multiple avenues exist for government to get its message across to its citizens. We must therefore revisit the question of the role of Radio St. Lucia in this current climate. My government will reorganize the GIS (Government Information System) to more effectively disseminate government information and its programmes. The company currently known as Radio St. Lucia will be closed, and the relevant programmes will be restructured to take advantage of the new technologies for information dissemination,” Chastanet said.