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RSL To Close, Union To Meet Employees

Image of Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service, Allen Chastanet

THE Civil Service Association (CSA) is hoping to dialogue with government following Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s announcement on Tuesday that Radio St. Lucia (RSL) will be closed.

CSA President, Yvonne Edwin, says her team will soon meet with employees of the radio station to decide the best way forward.

Image of Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service, Allen Chastanet
Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service, Allen Chastanet

Chastanet, during his delivery of the 2017/2018 policy statement on the budget, said that the radio station had lost its way, its financial position had been far from desirable in recent years and that it accumulated losses that amounted to $3,362,725 as of March 31, 2015.

“The company currently known as RSL will be closed and the relevant programmes will be restructured to take advantage of the new technologies for information dissemination,” Chastanet said.

The company, he added, also suffered a loss of $515,497 that same year, failed to meet its statutory requirements by way of wage-related expenses and owed the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) $543,000 for unpaid employee contributions, as well as $231,000 in unpaid taxes to the government, in addition to a significant accounts payable balance and contingent liabilities.

“The annual government subvention of $417,636 is unable to meet the significant liabilities which are being accumulated by Radio St. Lucia,” Chastanet said, noting that the matrix upon which the radio station was established had changed.

“When RSL was established, there were few avenues for disseminating information to our citizens. The radio was the most widely used tool for mass media and there were very few other radio stations. The current climate is far different; the Internet, television and cellphones 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 RSL in this current climate,” Chastanet said.

He said government will reorganize the Government Information Service (GIS) to more effectively disseminate government information and programmes.

Meanwhile, Edwin hopes that the RSL employees the CSA represents will be absorbed into the proposed reorganized GIS.

“We have heard there will be some restructuring at the NTN (National Television Network). We will not speculate. What the restructuring will entail is something we will have to wait for to determine the best way forward. We have not met with government as it relates to RSL but it is something we are hoping to do. Dialogue is also the best way of coming to an amicable conclusion,” Edwin said.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio…

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