January 23, 2009
PM monitoring effects of global financial crisis

A hands-on approach is what Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves will be taking as he monitors the effect that the global financial crisis is having on the local job market.

Dr Gonsalves urged local businesses that are laying off workers and workers affected to stay in contact with him, in addition to the Labour Department.{{more}}

“I want to have a hands-on approach to this to lessen whatever challenges which we are going to have, and to meet these challenges,” Dr Gonsalves said at a press conference on Monday, January 19.

He said that training opportunities can be provided for the displaced workers, and in some cases alternative work can be provided also.

Dr Gonsalves was responding to a question based on the lead story in SEARCHLIGHT’s January 16 issue, headlined “Nose Dive.”

In that story, we reported that DiscoveryWorks, an American offshore company here laid off 62 workers on Tuesday, January 13, while reports are that a major hotel resort plans to send home about 24 workers by month’s end.

This is in addition to the downsizing operations being undertaken by the two telecommunications companies, LIME (formerly Cable and Wireless) and DIGICEL.

The Prime Minister repeated a call he made in a statement to the nation last week, calling for optimism in the face of the difficulties.

“One has to be optimistic in going forward and hopeful, otherwise we are not going to make any progress,” he again said.

He also used the opportunity to call on employers to follow the law regarding laying off workers.

Last Week, Labour Commissioner Patrice Roberts-Samuel told SEARCHLIGHT that some companies that are laying-off workers are not following the law.

Companies are required to inform the Labour Department if they are sending home more than five employees at a time.

Meanwhile, Dr Gonsalves, who just returned from a Special Meeting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Monetary Council, said that even though news of lay-offs are not good, compared to what is happening in other territories, where hundreds are being laid off from hotel resorts, St Vincent and the Grenadines has cause to be hopeful.

He made particular reference to the Four Seasons Hotel in Nevis, which will be laying off 420 of its 723 workers, effective February 18.

In this context, Dr Gonsalves said that he is happy that he has received assurances from the two largest tourist resorts here: The Mustique Company, and Canouan Resorts, which when combined, employ over 2,000 persons, that no lay-offs are scheduled.

“To be given the assurance that we are not going to have any cuts in those is good to hear,” he said.(KJ)