CCC defends firing of Council Workers

The fired City Council workers controversy continues as the Castries City Council (CCC) responded to claims of political victimization made by former Prime Minister Stephenson King and Castries Central MP Richard Frederick on Tuesday this week.
Castries Mayor and Chairperson for the Castries City Council, Shirley Lewis says the decision to let the employees go fell within the exercise of its duties to be guided by the principles of prudent management.
She says having inherited a situation that called for an immediate review of the activities of the Council, the Board in its wisdom recognized the need to begin with areas where the Council spends large sums to determine the merit of the expenditure.
“As part of this exercise Council evaluated the performance of 33 sanitation contracts based on the numerous complaints and adverse perception of the public for the services rendered under these contracts vis a vis the levels of expenditure that was being incurred by the Council.
“This exercise began with the Council conducting a geographical tour of the areas under the responsibility of the Council, taking into account areas for which sanitary services were contracted for. A thorough inspection of all the areas for which the contracts had been issued was undertaken and it was recognized that there were serious deficiencies in the services that needed to be addressed as the existing arrangements left much to be desired,” said Lewis.
She further disclosed an amount of EC$151,434 paid fortnightly at an average of EC$4,588 per contract for total contracts awarded to some 33 contractors for sanitation works done in the city. According to Lewis, after examining closely each contract, the Council found many flaws with many of the contracts awarded.
In some cases Lewis said, contracts were not duly authorized and other contractors where being paid for the same area twice “as is the case of the LIAT Cargo shed area of Mandela Drive which was included as part of Small Vigie, paid to two individuals at a rate of EC 1500.00 a fortnight, with one also being paid under Serenity Park at the same rate.”
Referring to the John Henry case which was highlighted by Richard Frederick in his statement earlier this week, Lewis said contracts awarded for the Cariellie area represented an estimated 63 percent of total amount of the EC151, 434 which was being paid fortnightly.
She went on: “Mr Henry’s contract as with all other contracts lacked the required schedule which identified his area of responsibility. Council was advised while on a tour of the City that Mr Henry was responsible for the maintenance of the Carellie Park and paid EC$4,000 fortnightly.
“Council cognizant of the fact that the Carellie Park is incomplete and still under construction and is the subject of a matter in court felt it necessary to regularize this situation. It left Council with the question, What exactly were you being paid to clean?”
The Mayor believes that prudent management must be exercised over the resources of Castries City Council and that there must be value derived from its undertaking.
She then addressed the matter which involved Thomas Haynes—a former contractor Frederick reference in his statement.
“Contractual arrangements were at a cost of EC$11,460 fortnightly for the cleaning of the market, the arcade and the Marchand Market with an addition EC$500 added whenever pressure washing was done, using water the expense for which had to be covered by the Council.
“The former Minister was quick to mention in his statement that Mr. Haynes injury as having being caused on the job. However, investigations suggest otherwise, as his injury was said to have been incurred as a result of carrying out work on his private vehicle.
“As a recipient of this fort nightly sum, the facts are such that Council has been inundated with complaints from the market vendors on the conditions of the market and the vendors arcade not to mention the Marchand Market and that Council had for itself had a firsthand view of what was being expressed by the market vendors,” she said.
She further questioned how a man who is limited to a bed can carry out the required supervision of a contract for the last four years, yet he has a contract for an additional 5 years. Lewis could not hesitate but announce changes made to Central Castries as it relates to contractual agreements.                 According to the Chairperson, 33 contracts were inherited and reviewed by the council. Five of which were related to Castries Central and valued at EC$35,090 fortnightly. She says this was too much for a wide area of work and in the Council’s exercise of prudent management decided to restructure the current arrangement.
Lewis announced that the Council had issued 9 contracts using the same resources covering a wider area. This action, according to her has not only increased the number of persons employed from 25 to an estimated 45 but has provided the Central Castries area with a wider coverage of services by council.
While briefly commenting on the two employees at the forefront of this controversy, Lewis said the Council needed to address a number of human resource issues.
“The Council also identified that there were a number of persons on temporary employment within the council that had been brought in for six month periods under the SSDF/Hope and NSDC projects. These persons after the completion of the six month program continued in the employment of CCC for over 18 months.
“To regularize this situation, where some persons could have been kept on staff their
temporary employment was terminated and they were reinstated in full time positions at the CCC after receiving good performance appraisals from the supervisors.                     Unfortunately not all could have been kept on due to poor performance and issues relating to high absenteeism. It is as
a result of this persons
such as Miss Charmaine Ceasar and Mr Matyr
had their temporary employment terminated by the CCC.”

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