MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, who advised Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace when he appeared before the labour board over the non-payment of severance to his former secretary, Rishatha Nicholls, says Eustace should pay the former employee.
Speaking on radio on Friday, Leacock, however, said that had Eustace written Nicholls a “stronger and firmer and detailed letter of the cumulative issues” that led to her dismissal, “she would not have had a leg to stand on”.
In the letter of dismissal last March, Eustace said he was firing Nicholls, for failure to write up a vote book, the disappearance of monies donated to political activist E.G. Lynch, and loss of confidence.
The Labour Department last year ordered Eustace to pay Nicholls EC$16,199.99 in severance.
Eustace appealed the ruling, and a hearing originally scheduled for last Tuesday has been postponed to March.
Leacock said that he has had a good relationship with Nicholls.
“… but I am not here saying that in its context to curry favour,” Leacock said in a call to the radio programme.
“But that does not mean that Rishatha has not been conducting herself in ways, at times and in many instances, in which the Leader of the Opposition could feel uncomfortable.
“… I wish not to enter further into the merit and or demerit of what is happening. And maybe I should say it tonight. Left to me alone, I would give Rishatha Nicholls her money and let us go away, because this thing is going to drag on ad infinitum and I don’t see any good outcome coming to the New Democratic Party out of the whole matter,” said Leacock, who is a vice-president of the New Democratic Party, which Eustace heads.
He, however, added that paying severance to Nicholls, “doesn’t mean that the Leader of the Opposition didn’t have an argument.
Leacock said he has 30 years of experience in industrial relations, both as a former human resource manager at VINLEC and manager of his own business.
“If we had written a much stronger and firmer and detailed letter of the cumulative issues that were involved with Rishatha Nicholls, she would not have had a leg to stand on.
“But I don’t feel there is any need for me to go to the public and paint anybody one way or the other. I think that is where the fundamental matter was. It was not detailed in a cumulative way.”
Leacock said that Nicholls spoke to him after she was fired last year.
“The first thing that she did after she was fired, she went on the radio. I said, ‘Why did you have to do that?’ And in fact, I attempted to broker a peace between both parties and see if we could have just give Rishatha some gratuitous payment and end that story there,” Leacock said.
Recently, Nicholls has telephoned various radio programmes about the economic and other impact that her dismissal has had on her and her family.
Eustace has declined commenting on the issues, beyond saying that if he loses the appeal, there are other options, including going to court.
Nicholls told I-Witness News on Monday that Eustace should listen to Leacock.
“If he is the advisor, he is the one Eustace should take advice from,” Nicholls told I-Witness News.