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From sunken sculptures to rusting Soviet planes, Grenada is an island brimming with mystery

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There’s a human silhouette looming out of the depths. The waves above have churned up the sand below, and now the sediment coils above the seabed like a strange mist, like something out of a Stephen King novel. 

I pop my head above the surface to fill my lungs with as much air as they can carry, tip myself forwards and thrash my legs around in what I assume must be the correct fashion, swimming deeper and deeper until the figure finally becomes clear. At the bottom of the bay, between two coral reefs in a sun-dappled sandy patch, is a figure of a man, at a desk, on a typewriter.

The underwater sculpture park of Grenada is the first of its kind in the world, and one of the most popular snorkelling sites in the Caribbean. Situated in 800 square metres of protected conservation area just off the island’s western coast, this collection of ghostly statues – made of concrete and fixed to the seabed by rebar – is very slowly being reclaimed by the ocean. Shoals of fish move among a ring of children holding hands, some toppled over and caked in barnacles. It is a bizarre sight, and feels a million miles from land.

The capital of Grenada is St. George’s, a densely built town set in a horseshoe shaped bay of an old volcano crater, and overlooked by a crumbling fort built by the French in 1705. It’s now used as by the town’s police as a gym. In the centre of town, a set of converted French barracks from the same era – at one stage used as a prison, and at another as the island’s first hotel – now houses the Grenada National Museum, which on sunny weekday afternoons is staffed by a single snoozing man.

Pearls Airport, Grenada

Here you’ll find artifacts and tools from the island’s ancient indigenous past, as well as its long and often violent history at the centre of the Caribbean nutmeg trade. Grenada is known as the spice island for its many nutmeg plantations, which produce not just the nutmeg spice, but the mace used in incapacitating sprays. Grenada still produces 40 per cent of the global crop today. Pub quizzers might also like to note that the nutmeg holds such a hallowed place in Grenadian society that it appears on the country’s flag.

The top floor of the museum is dedicated to more recent history. In 1983, and over a period of four days, Grenada was invaded by the United States in order to restore power to the previous government, which had been deposed in a communist coup shortly after the country became independent from the United Kingdom. The invasion of a Commonwealth country drew international criticism at the time, including from Thatcher, though today the date of the invasion is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day, as Grenadians broadly supported the restoration of the democratic process.

Read more: How one man defied Stalin and risked death by firing squad to conceal outlawed art from the Soviets

Vestiges of Grenada’s communist past can be found on a drive around the north edge of the island, where taxis take a shortcut to Grenville through the abandoned Pearls Airport. Now just an overgrown strip of broken concrete bordered on both sides by low green hills and used for illegal drag races, it was captured by the Americans on the first day of the invasion in order to prevent resupplying from Cuba. 

At one end of the airstrip is the hollow carcass of a Cubana Airlines passenger plane, and at another is a former Soviet crop duster with the letters CCCP barely visible on the fuselage. An unexpected piece of Cold War history, rusting away on a quiet corner of a Caribbean island.

Rum tasting in Grenada

Any trip around the island should include a stop at Rumboat Retreat on Mount Nesbit, where founder and rum expert Lisette Davis offers educational tasting sessions. She’s launched bars in London, and is partly responsible for bringing the third wave of tiki to the United Kingdom. If you’ve recently been inside a Polynesian-themed bar and wondered why, the answer is Lisette.

Rivers Rum is distilled to up to 89 per cent ABV, so strong that airlines will refuse to allow you to board with a bottle as it poses a risk of exploding. 

The retreat, also a boutique hotel, is surrounded by dark forests and endless views. The host doesn’t shy away from diving into some of the less scrupulous practices of the rum industry either, highlighting how loose regulations allow rum to be confusingly labelled or artificially coloured to entice customers. She rolls her eyes at fancy, attention-grabbing bottles, but is enthusiastic about her trade, demonstrating the finer flavours and nuanced textures of some truly excellent rums.

Distilled at the nearby River Antoine Rum Distillery and popular across the island is Rivers Rum. This clear spirit is distilled to up to 89 per cent ABV, so strong that airlines will refuse to allow you to board with a bottle as it poses a risk of exploding. 

The infinity pool at Silversands Grenada

Supermarkets in St. George’s sell a watered-down version for tourists. At a mere 69 per cent ABV it’s basically a shandy by comparison, but has become the longest surviving bottle on my drinks cabinet at home.

The drinks menu at Spice Island Beach Resort is a little more refined. It’s an elegant spot along the finest beach on the island – Grand Anse – and offers an all-inclusive service, with a daily-restocked bar in your room as well as a private terrace and swimming pool in some suites.

Along the beach is the recently opened Silversands Grenada resort which, in contrast to the traditional colonial style of the more established Spice Island, is a gleaming maze of sharp lines and architectural angles.

Read more: Silversands Grenada review – The longest pool in the Caribbean, the most luxurious hotel in Grenada

Its infinity pool stretches from the lounge to the beach, and at one hundred metres is the longest pool in the Caribbean. The hotel’s Tesla Model X transfers you from the airport to the hotel and back, and the rum bar sells a $70,000 bottle of Hennessy cognac.

I think I’ll take my chances with the exploding stuff.


Rates at Silversands Grenada start from $800 per night, including: private airport transfers; daily breakfast; complimentary selection of soft drinks, coffee, bottled water and beer from the private bar. Visit silversandsgrenada.com 

To find out more about Spice Island Beach Resort and to book your stay visit spiceislandbeachresort.com 

British Airways flies direct to Grenada from Gatwick. To book visit ba.com

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Caribbean & World

NEWLO facilities to accommodate more technical skills training 

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • TVET Training programmes at NEWLO after hours
  • Skills for Youth Employment funded through by Department for International Development over 4 years

In an attempt to fully utilise the facility at the New Life Organisation (NEWLO) after its usual closing hours in the evening, the Government of Grenada in conjunction with the Department for International Development (DFID) will be commencing TVET training programmes for young people in a number of on-demand skill area.

The first skills training programme, Skills for Youth Employment (SkYE) is funded by the DFID over 4 years; EC$3.3 million will cover 65% of the cost. Government is expected to fund EC$375,000 the cost associated with transportation and refreshments per year. 120 young per year people will receive training in skill areas including:

  • Furniture-Making (Level 1)
  • Cosmetology (Level 2)
  • Carpentry (Level 2)
  • Early Childhood (Level 2)
  • Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (Level 2)
  • TV and Video Production (Level 2)

SkYE is a four-year programme valued at £9.1 million designed to promote economic growth and sustainable development. Grenada is not alone in the implementation of such training since the programme is also rolled out in St Lucia, Dominica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines after eight months of research and design work.

Over 6,000 young people ages 15 to 30 are eligible for training under the SkYE programme across the aforementioned territories, which is said to improve their employability in sectors where there is evident demand for skilled workers.

The first batch of young people started training under the SkYE in October while the government is preparing to begin training of 70 adults over the age of 35 during November.

Areas of skills training include:

  • Agro-processing
  • Fabric Design
  • Hospitality Services
  • Crop Production
  • Poultry Rearing

This component of the training will be fully covered by the government and like the previous programme will be held at NEWLO. Both programmes will be held in the evening as the government realises the need to fully utilise the NEWLO facility.

“Really, what has happened at NEWLO is a second shift has been created at the institution. Many times an institution closes at 2:30 pm and the building that is filled with equipment. The doors are just closed for the rest of the day, but at NEWLO now we are having a second shift so we are now being more efficient as a country in terms of utilising our resources,” said Minister for Tertiary Education, Skill Development & Education Outreach Hon. Pamela Moses.

Minister Moses was particularly pleased since this would mean that more young people can be empowered especially young people challenged by disability. “There is one main condition that the government and NEWLO have had to accede to for this training and is that 10% of the trainees must be disabled youth, so we have met that quota. New Life Organisation is not just training our able-bodied youth but is training youth that have challenges, who are disabled in one form or the other.”

Other courses accompanying the training are computer and life skills, literacy and numeracy and Job placement training. The selection of participants under the adult component of the government-funded skills training programme has already been completed and will cost approximately $600,000 yearly. The training will run between nine and 13 months dependent upon the course undertaken.

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Caribbean & World

College Council to inform government on increments payment to TAMCC employees 

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • Tertiary Education Minister, Pamela Moses, said TAMCC College Council responsible for payment of increments
  • PWU demanding payment of increments of over $6 million from 2014

Interim Chairperson for the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) College Council, Augustine Vesprey, had no other choice but to walk past determined protesters of the Public Workers Union (PWU) as he made his way through the Teachers Education Department moments before convening a meeting with the rest of the members of the council.

The outcome of the meeting held on Tuesday, 12 November is still not known, however, it followed the announcement made by Minister for Tertiary Education, Skill Development and Education Outreach, Pamela Moses, that the government is not responsible for paying increments demanded by the PWU; payment is the responsibility of the College Council.

Public Workers Union (PWU) members protest nonpayment of increments

The PWU is demanding payment of increments of over $6 million from 2014 when Grenada entered into a three-year Homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme which forced various public sector unions to accept a freeze on increments.

“We know that our increments are a significant amount and if we allow it to continue it will build up more, so we want to ensure that this matter is settled… we have been extremely patient, we cannot be patient anymore,” said President of the PWU, Rachel Roberts.

TAMCC receives an annual subvention from the government of $14 million. It is the responsibility of the College Council to govern the operation of the institution which was established by Act No. 41 of 1996 — the TA Marryshow Community College Act — making the college a fully-fledged educational institution. However, the act was said to have stopped short of allowing the college to have full autonomy over its operations.

Roberts said the subvention received from government is inadequate and cannot support the day to day operations of the college and, since the Government of Grenada regulates the fees at the college which is heavily subsidised, the college is also unable to raise funds needed to cover its expenses, which include the payment of increments to the workers employed by the College Council. “TAMCC doesn’t have the ability to charge the true cost of any programme that a student may undertake at the institution, so therefore, TAMCC is strapped. Their hands are tied and they cannot do anything unless the government supports them.”

Public Workers Union (PWU) members protest nonpayment of increments

At the college are two categories of workers: 35 workers employed through the Public Service Commission (PSC) who are workers on secondment transferred to the college from schools and ministries, and 243 permanent workers employed by the College Council. The workers employed by the College Council are the ones demanding payment of increments since those employed through the PSC retain their status as government employees and are currently benefiting from ongoing negotiations led by the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT).

Minister Moses stated at yesterday’s post-cabinet briefing that it is the responsibility of the College Council through the finance committee to make payments to those categories of workers. The College Council by law has what is known as standing committees…one of which is the finance committee and according to section 11 (2) (e) it states that the finance committee manages the funds of the college and so makes recommendations for its investment thereafter. As such the finance committee through the council if it can find savings and use it to pay increments as it sees fit… and all the council has to do is to inform government of its decision.

In light of this, cabinet has requested that the College Council submit a plan to the government detailing how it plans on paying the $6.1 million in increments.

Thus far the council has selected a sub-finance committee to meet on this matter and then later this week the council will meet with the union in an attempt to resolve the issue,” said Minister Moses.

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Caribbean & World

Two unions deadlocked with government while third close to concluding negotiations

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by Linda Straker

  • 3 trade unions represent more than 6,000 government-employed workers
  • Fiscal Responsibility Law mandates government’s wage bill cannot exceed 9% of GDP in any year
  • Talks progressing smoothly with Grenada Union of Teachers

Oliver Joseph, Head of the Government’s Negotiating Team, believes that one of the trade unions currently engaged in negotiations for the period 2020 to 2022 will conclude its negotiations before the presentation of the 2020 Budget, scheduled for 20 November.

3 trade unions are representing more than 6,000 workers employed by government. Talks with the Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) which are negotiating jointly, were declared deadlocked after the third round.

“With regards to the Grenada Union of Teachers, talks are progressing smoothly. We are confident that we will soon reach a settlement given the significant movement by both sides,” Joseph said when he provided an update on the situation during the weekly Tuesday post-cabinet briefing.

“We are at the stage with the GUT where we think that before the end of this week we can conclude the negotiations and sign an agreement because of the cordial way in which the negotiations took place, and the willingness of the union negotiators to reach a settlement with government, understanding the fiscal rules,” Joseph said.

Grenada’s Houses of Parliament in 2013 approved several legislations aimed at maintaining sustainable public finances, ensuring fiscal policy assist with economic growth and maintain appropriate levels of public investment. These laws came into effect as of 2014.

“We are negotiating now under different conditions. We have taken a decision, we have passed laws — Fiscal Responsibility Law, Public Finance Management Act — all of which binds the government into a framework. So, we are negotiating within the framework agreement,” Joseph said and called on the unions who are currently in deadlock to respect the law of the land.

“The approach to this negotiation must be fact-based, based on facts and on the evidence,” said Joseph who also serves as Minister for Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Caricom Affairs.

“The fiscal responsibility law also has what it calls fiscal space. In considering what the award will be for public sector unions that must be taken into consideration,” said the minister who explained that within that space, government has to find money to do all other programmes.

The Fiscal Responsibility Law mandates that government’s wage bill cannot exceed 9% of GDP in any year while the primary expenditure rule says that the government cannot exceed 2% more than the previous year.

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