(Trinidad Guardian) The Government Information Services Limited (GISL) will be no more and its 60 employees will be sent home, Minister of Communications Maxie Cuffie confirmed yesterday.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian, Cuffie said the company has been losing money, with its assets exceeding liabilities by $19 million.
“We have been spending $14 million to keep it going but it is not (producing) anything,” Cuffie said hours after met with employees to tell them of the decision.
He said a new board will be appointed for the winding up process and it will determine the terminal benefits for the employees.
“It is an operational board that will be appointed by the Ministry of Finance,” Cuffie said.
Cabinet, he added, will confirm the board members on Thursday.
“It pained me to do this. It was a painful decision for me because I worked there and I hired a number of them there, but it is something that needs to be done. Media companies have been experiencing difficult times and this is generally a cause of concern,” Cuffie said.
Speaking under strict anonymity yesterday, a GISL employee said most of them were shocked over the sudden news.
“Not any one of us thought we would have woken up this morning, gone to our workplace and return home with this news knowing that we don’t have a job to go to now. It is very hard to swallow and to accept,” the employee said.
Another employee, who also wished not to be identified, said initially she had heard GISL would be wrapped up within the next two months but was surprised to know that that changed to “immediate.”
She added that many people are still owed gratuity and wondered if they will ever receive it with.
“Will they still be paid their gratuities? Over 100 were retrenched before and now us, 60. We were told that there would have been no new contracts and that contracts would not be renewed, now, suddenly, pops up to say it is over,” the employee said.
In a 2016 report on the future of the Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG) and GISL, it was recommended that GISL be dissolved, its television station TV4 be disposed of and all contract work be ceased.
It also found that GISL and the Government Information Services Department (GISD) provided the same services. The report said GISL should be dissolved as a limited liability company and GISD restructured to co-ordinate the implementation of government’s information policy and provide services aligned with that particular function, as well as to support ministries and departments with the dissemination of information. The report said there should be complete reintegration by July 2016.
The report, which was prepared by the company’s board under former chairman Helen Drayton, also recommended CNMG change its name to the Broadcasting Trust Corporation (BTC) T&T Ltd to be more reflective of its mandate.