KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 31, IWN – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace on Thursday fired his secretary, Rishatha Nicolls, who would have marked 12 years in the post on Aug. 1.
Nicolls told I-Witness News on Sunday that she was not shocked that she was fired but is “dissatisfied” with the reasons given.
She was informed by letter on Thursday that her employment was being terminated with immediate effect.
“It did give three reasons, which I really do not want to disclose because I am not sure of like legal anything…” Nicholls told I-Witness News of the letter.
She, however, said she would seek “clarity”.
“I will, in fact, try to have as much clarity being given to the reason in an orderly way, without any damage, any bias; without any bitterness or anything, because I am still grateful for the opportunity to have served the New Democratic Party through the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
“So, I do not wish to be ungrateful or to create the impression that it was never an enjoyable experience. I will not create that kind of thing. It is just an unfortunate stuff and I will in fact try to have as much clarification done to that situation,” she said.
Nicholls, an East Kingstown constituent, said she initially had a good relationship with Eustace, who is also her parliamentary representative and president of the New Democratic Party (NDP).
“Initially, it was very good. Along the way, we had problems, which I believe were unresolved,” she said of the relationship.
Asked about the nature of the problems, Nicholls said:
“I think job security. I think too many influences.”
She explained that her job was “three-fold” by virtue of Eustace’s status in Parliament and the NDP.
“I am an NDP supporter and I am also a constituent of East Kingstown so I also would make sure that whatever I need to do in the constituency that I live, I do –make sure that I honour my commitments as a supporter of the party, in that kind of sense.”
Nicholls said she had a water outage at home and was preparing her daughter for a Girl Guides camp and was therefore not at her office when the dismissal letter was delivered.
Addison “Bash” Thomas, Eustace’s research officer, informed Nicholls by phone of a letter having been left at the office for her and she asked him to open it and read the contents to her.
“And that’s how I found out,” said.
“It is not that I was shocked. But I was disappointed with the reasons,” she said in response to a question about how she felt on hearing the news.
Nicholls further told I-Witness News that her support for the NDP still stands.
“My support for the NDP will not change. NDP didn’t do me anything,” she said.
The ruling Unity Labour Party has already signalled its intention to try to gain political mileage out of the development.
ULP assistant general-secretary, Elson Crick, who is also communications director in the Office of the Prime Minister, has mentioned the dismissal on Facebook and added that the party’s radio programmes will be especially interesting this week.
Nicholls told I-Witness News that the ULP’s response is expected.
“The ULP is a political organisation that has its own work to do and I cannot dictate for them how they will do their work.
“I just have to observe the whole situation and be wise as to, more or less, what will affect or benefit me. I do not want to be caught up in any complication. I do not want to have to be in any situation of bitterness and anger.
“In all fairness, I know, from the spiritual perspective, sometimes everything works for good. So, it is not that I am going to be angry. I know it is hard, because you have to, more or less, adjust to a change is something that I hadn’t anticipated at this time.
“So, it is, more or less, preparing for the adjustment rather than being bitter or wanting to revenge,” she said.
Nicholls studied office procedures at school and, during her employment as Eustace’s secretary, completed a certificate in computing and a diploma in administration and management.
Calls to Eustace’s home Sunday evening went unanswered.
Nicholls is the second person fired by Eustace in the past year.
Last April, he fired then senator, Anesia Baptiste, over a party policy about religion.