FLOW Workers to Strike

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Workers at FLOW Jamaica are set to take industrial action over the protracted wage negotiations and a pending redundancy exercise that will affect at least 1-hundred positions.

President-General of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, BITU, Senator Kavan Gayle, says the workers indicated their intent to take action, following a meeting this morning.

Senator Gayle says FLOW customers should brace for service interruptions.

When our newscenter contacted FLOW for a response shortly before news time, Communications Manager, Naomi Francis promised that a statement would be issued soon.

Nicholson Calls on UN to Do More For Small States

Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator AJ Nicholson has called on the United Nations to do more to address the challenges confronting Small Island Developing States or SIDS, like Jamaica.

This as he made his contribution to the general debate at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Senator Nicholson also called on the UN to do more to resolve the ongoing crises in the Middle East.

He said the key to a resolution, is the urgent reform of the UN Security Council.

Senator Nicholson says while the UN has made significant progress over the past 70 years, the body has fallen short of Jamaica’s expectations in some key areas.

He says the inaction of the UN has left many in poverty and the world plagued by strife.

He says the UN must marshal all resources to ensure that the development agenda of Small Island Development States are realized.

Senator Nicholson says it’s crucial for the UN to push through the reform of the Security Council, in order to better address global challenges.

And Senator Nicholson says Jamaica is concerned about the ongoing border conflict between Guyana and Venezuela.

The Foreign Affairs Minister again used his speech at the UN, to call for the lifting of the US economic embargo on Cuba.

Grenadian Journalists Condemn Restrictions on Interviewing UK PM

The Media Workers Association of Grenada, M-WAG has condemned the restrictions imposed on its members, during yesterday’s visit by British Prime Minister, David Cameron.

M-WAG says it was dissatisfied with the limited photo opportunities afforded to only a small cross section of the media, during Cameron’s one day visit.

M-WAG President, Sherean Newell, says the way in which the media was treated, undermines the hard-fought gains made in reporting the news through an independent lens.

Sherean Newell, President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada, speaking with Nationwide News.

The group says it understands that certain protocols must be followed in accommodating high profile world leaders.

But it says these protocols should not run contrary to the expected operation of a free media.

The statement concluded by seeking a commitment from the government of Grenada that such harsh anti-media restrictions are not employed in the future.

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‘Falconer Spoke The Truth!’ – Fitton

Sandrea Falconer spoke the truth!

That’s the word from the British High Commission in Kingston.

The High Commission had originally contradicted Minister Falconer, when it denied asking for the media to be barred from asking questions of Prime Minister David Cameron, on his working visit to the island this week.

Minister Falconer had said the decision to bar the media was made following a request by the British Government.

Falconer said Japan had made a similar request regarding the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The decision to bar the press from interviewing either leader, provoked much controversy.

The Press Association of Jamaica, PAJ, intervened and sent letters of complaint to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller the UK High Commission and the Japanese Embassy.

Senator Falconer insisted on social media on Tuesday that the UK had in fact asked that no questions be accommodated, after bilateral talks between Mr. Cameron and Mrs. Simpson Miller.

But addressing a media briefing yesterday the UK High Commissioner to Kingston, David Fitton contradicted her claim.

High Commissioner Fitton’s unequivocal contradiction of Senator Falconer caused persons to question whether the Information Minister intentionally misled the country.

As media personnel who attended yesterday’s briefing made a note of his contradiction of the Government’s Chief Spokesperson, High Commissioner Fitton said he should quoted.

There was more intrigue as the Office of the Prime Minister issued a statement last night, standing by Senator Falconer’s claim that the UK did request that the media be barred from asking questions.

But in a major U-turn today – a statement from the UK High Commission contradicted Fitton’s account and indicated that what Senator Falconer said was actually the truth.

Today’s statement from the High Commission says – ” we had therefore requested there be no questions because of the time constraints.”

So what has accounted for the U-turn from the High Commission?

Why did David Fitton say yesterday that the UK certainly did not direct that no questions be accommodated from the media?

And will the UK’s Chief Diplomat in Kingston apologize to Jamaica’s Information Minister?

‘Bad Idea to Close School Districts’ – Thwaites

Education Minister, Ronald Thwaites, says it would have been a bad idea to close an entire school district in order to contain the outbreak of hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

The suggestion came from Opposition Spokesperson on Education, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith.

Senator Johnson Smith says that strategy was successfully employed by the JLP administration in 20010.

Minister Thwaites explained the justification for closing affected schools.

300 Children in 98 Schools Affected by HFMD

The Ministry of Health is reporting that up to Thursday evening, 98 schools across the island have been affected by the outbreak of Hand Foot and Mouth disease.

This has affected over 3-hundred-children and forced the closure of eleven schools.

St. Catherine is the worst affected parish, with over 1-hundred-and-50 children in 38 schools reporting symptoms of the highly contagious disease.

The Health Ministry revealed today that the disease has been affecting some schools since early the start of the new school year in September.

Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson says the majority of cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease have been reported in St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew

Dr. Ferguson says 11 of the affected schools have been ordered closed.

The Health Minister says some of the cases confirmed by his team, date back to early September.

The Minister and his senior officers were asked at a press conference today, to state why it took so long for the public to be made aware of the presence of the disease in schools.

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marion Bullock Ducase, says the disease was not being actively tracked.

Dr. Ducasse says to date, there’s nothing to suggest that the spread of the disease is due to the drought affecting several parts of the island.

Montague Calls for National Summit

Opposition Senator, Robert Montague, today reiterated his call for a national summit on the immediate goals of the nation to be convened and held before the next general election.

Senator Montague told his colleagues in the upper house that its vital that the country’s future be shaped by a new spirit of bipartisan support.

Senator Montague says the summit should discuss some specific ideas and solutions with the Government, the workers representatives, civil society, the private sector, and academia.

His call drew rare applause from the government benches in the Senate.

Robert Montague, Opposition Senator.

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PAJ Knocks OPM

The Press Association of Jamaica, PAJ, says it’s pleased that both the British High Commissioner and the Office of the Prime Minister, OPM, recognize that the lack of access to UK Prime Minister David Cameron on his recent visit, was an issue.

In a statement today the PAJ says the format used by the OPM during the visit of US President Barack Obama, where only two questions were allowed from both local and foreign media, was also insufficient.

It says its concerned that the OPM appears to regard this as sufficient for the Jamaican press corps and questions why formats used elsewhere are not adopted.

The PAJ says it wishes to highlight the disgraceful position taken by Jamaica House generally in its restriction of media access to Prime Minister Simpson Miller.

It says the Prime Minister’s steadfast refusal to face the media is unprecedented in modern times, and is contemptuous of, and dismissive of the Jamaican press to an unbelievable degree.

“NOT a Thing of the Past!” – MGPPP to Cameron

The Marcus Garvey People’s Political Party, MGPPP, is calling on British Prime Minister David Cameron to retract his comment that slavery is a thing of the past.

The Chairman of the party, Horace Matthews, says he’s displeased by the tone of Mr. Cameron’s presentation in the House on Wednesday.

Mr. Matthews says Jamaican government must not sit by and allow Mr. Cameron to pull the wool over their eyes.

He says other atrocities committed by world powers against developing states have led to reparations being paid to them.

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Shelly-Ann in Namibia

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who’s on the last leg of her vacation in Namibia, says she was encouraged to visit the African state after some athletes from that country recently visited the MVP Track Club at its base in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Fraser-Pryce took time out of her vacation to share sprinting tips with young athletes

She’s urging the youth in rural Namibia, to hold on to their dreams despite their present circumstances.

She told a group of youngsters that she too came from humble beginnings, but with hard work and strong family values, was able to rise to the top of world sprinting.

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