The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Along­side Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet, DSH Chair­man Teo Ah Khing headed a me­dia press con­fer­ence ear­lier this month that sought to ad­dress pub­lic con­cerns re­lat­ing to the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment. On the sub­ject of job guar­an­tees the prime min­is­ter said, “We con­trol the labour force through the work per­mits. If in fact there is in­suf­fi­cient lo­cal labour avail­able, only then will for­eign work­ers be em­ployed. That would also ap­ply if we don’t have work­ers with par­tic­u­lar tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise.”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “There’s a process by which the Labour min­istry op­er­ates. There will be noth­ing in the fi­nal agree­ment which will by­pass that process.”

The prime min­is­ter took the op­por­tu­nity to re­mind re­porters he had “lamented re­peat­edly” about the num­ber of peo­ple that had to be brought to the is­land, par­tic­u­larly in the case of the Roy­al­ton Ho­tel.

“They were brought in sim­ply be­cause they could not find qual­i­fied lo­cal peo­ple to do the avail­able jobs. So our job is to have train­ing pro­grammes to ensure we don’t have to bring peo­ple into Saint Lu­cia.”

A re­porter asked if the PM was “open to putting labour force guar­an­tees into the agree­ments”. His re­sponse: “I’ve al­ready told you there is a pro­to­col al­ready in place that pro­tects lo­cal work­ers. That pro­to­col is en­forced by the Min­istry of Labour.”

DSH CEO Khing stepped in at this point. Ref­er­enc­ing his com­pany’s in­vest­ments in Switzer­land, he said labour was so scarce there that his com­pany had de­cided to as­sist by part­ner­ing with the Swiss School of Man­age­ment.

“The Swiss School of Man­age­ment at­tracts stu­dents and ta­lent from all over the world,” he said. “They are trained in hos­pi­tal­ity, chefs, and so on, and that’s what I fore­see hap­pen­ing in Saint Lu­cia. Maybe we could, like the prime min­is­ter has sug­gested, have sev­eral of these schools to up­grade our lo­cal labour force, so that they them­selves can also be in­volved in the process of de­vel­op­ment, have the pos­si­bil­ity of ad­vance­ment from waiter to man­ager level. They need to be trained some­how, and we are very happy to work with ap­pro­pri­ate in­sti­tu­tions.”

Ref­er­enc­ing the open­ing of the Roy­al­ton that had re­port­edly re­sulted in an­other ho­tel los­ing sev­eral work­ers, Khing said, “That’s not what we want to hap­pen here. There is an op­por­tu­nity for over­all skilled labour to up­grade and the process should start as quickly as pos­si­ble. It doesn’t mean that when we have a ho­tel, then we start look­ing for peo­ple. We must start re­cruit­ing in ad­vance. Desert Star is com­mit­ted. We are com­mit­ted to do that. It sounds very un­real, but it’s what we are. If you go to the ho­tel in Switzer­land and in­ter­view the ho­tel com­mu­nity of about 200 res­i­dents, ev­ery­body loves us, be­cause we are part of them. We do not im­port for­eign el­e­ments into their ho­tel. You guys can go do some re­search on that.”

In clos­ing, Chas­tanet ex­plained that the pur­pose of the hos­pi­tal­ity school in the south was in prepa­ra­tion for devel­op­ments like DSH. “We’ve al­ready started the process, and part of the NICE monies have been moved into an ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gramme in which we’re sup­port­ing the train­ing of these stu­dents. The hope is to send them to ex­ist­ing ho­tels, and also the cruise in­dus­try. We knew there was go­ing to be a huge de­mand for work­ers, and we don’t have them now. We’ve just grad­u­ated 150 kids from the south; the re­sponse has been phenom­e­nal - all of them have been em­ployed. We’re look­ing to bring that num­ber up to 500. We’re not just say­ing it, the ac­tions have al­ready started to sup­port what we’re say­ing.”

Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet and DSH Chair­man Teo Ah Khing up­dat­ing the me­dia on the Pearl of the Caribbean de­vel­op­ment ear­lier this month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.