• Unions slam ‘murky’ bundle as ‘busting tactic’
• Service manufacturers ‘most beneficiant supply in Caribbean’
• Aimed toward 63 staff closest to retirement age
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Enterprise Editor
The Bahamas Telecommunications Firm’s (BTC) two unions yesterday revealed they’ve filed a commerce dispute over what the provider branded “essentially the most beneficiant retirement bundle within the Caribbean”.
Ricardo Thompson, the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union’s (BTC) president, advised Tribune Enterprise that its attorneys have been analyzing the Enhanced Early Retirement Programme (EERP) being provided to 63 employees aged between 55 and 60 years-old on the idea that the provider had not complied with their industrial settlement.
He and Dino Rolle, president of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU), which represents BTC’s line employees, argued that the corporate had made the supply on to all staff falling into this age bracket moderately than going by means of the 2 unions first – one thing they mentioned was mandated by their respective industrial offers.
However Garfield ‘Garry’ Sinclair, BTC’s chief government, advised Tribune Enterprise that the unions have been looking for fault with the method as a result of they have been unable to criticise what the provider was providing to older and long-serving staff.
Asserting that BTC had consulted the 2 unions at a December 30 assembly, which was confirmed by Mr Rolle, Mr Sinclair emphasised the “voluntary” nature of the bundle being provided and mentioned the communications supplier had set no goal quantity for decreasing its workforce.
He added that the deadline for staff to simply accept the EERP supply had been prolonged by one week, from January 18 to January 25, to allow all these concerned to acquire the small print required to make an knowledgeable choice on whether or not they are going to settle for.
Mr Sinclair, who declined to reveal the monetary phrases on supply, mentioned the variety of older BTC employees signalling their acceptance was already “within the double digits”, however each union leaders argued that the supply’s week-long extension was granted as a result of the bundle was not engaging sufficient to their members.
“Each unions felt very strongly that BTC’s method was both a union busting tactic or in search of to destabilise the unions,” Mr Thompson advised Tribune Enterprise. “They sought to place issues ahead and go on to the members. We now have a significant drawback with that complete course of.
“It’s not the way in which we do enterprise. We’re unionised in The Bahamas. You must come by means of the unions and negotiate. We could inform you to neglect it, and so they’re attempting to combat us on that. It’s a one-off factor the place they’re clearly concentrating on these 63 individuals. There’s no room for negotiation. They need to go on to the members, and it reeks of union busting and a method to disturb the union.
“The individuals on this age group have been there the longest, and in consequence have salaries which might be excessive. They’re clearly concentrating on long-serving members with excessive salaries…. We now have filed a commerce dispute, and are letting our legal professionals have a look at all this stuff. It’s positively murky to us, and isn’t in step with what we all know to be industrial concord.
Mr Thompson argued that the bundle being provided to his 23 qualifying members was receiving little response as a result of BTC was providing to pay those that accepted in annual installments, moderately than an upfront lump sum.
He revealed that these aged between 55 and 57 have been being provided 60 p.c of their wage yearly for as much as three years, along with due pension and different advantages, whereas these aged 57 and upwards would obtain 100% of their wage upfront for every of these three years.
Mentioning that BTC has staged quite a few voluntary separation workout routines since its privatisation in 2011, when Cable & Wi-fi Communications (CWC) purchased a controlling 49 p.c fairness curiosity, Mr Thompson mentioned: “Each time there’s a proposal of this nature your entire firm turns into disturbed. They’re uncertain what the ultimate quantity is, what they are going to do the following day. Each time they flip they get shocked.”
The union chief added that ought to all 63 individuals settle for the newest bundle, BTC’s workforce would quantity round 330-340 individuals. “There’s lots of contract staff and non permanent staff all over,” he added.
Mr Rolle, in the meantime, urged the Authorities to make use of its 49 p.c curiosity in BTC to intervene with senior administration, CWC and the latter’s mum or dad, Liberty Latin America. He added that the union’s had “compelled administration’s hand” on the EERP after listening to “discuss” that one other voluntary separation train was deliberate.
“We had a joint membership assembly, and employees have been expressing outrage at administration over the New Yr’s greeting. The very first thing the corporate determined to do was contact employees and supply separation packages. One thing’s mistaken with that,” Mr Rolle mentioned.
Nevertheless, Mr Sinclair rebuffed union issues and accused them of specializing in course of moderately than substance. “I’d counsel the previous maxim: If you can not outline an issue with the coverage or initiative itself you kick up a fuss over the method,” he advised Tribune Enterprise. “Incontrovertibly that is essentially the most beneficiant early retirement bundle not simply in The Bahamas however the Caribbean.”
Mr Sinclair mentioned the December 30, 2020, assembly with the 2 BTC unions had not seen the 2 sides agree on all the things however “we received the suggestions we wanted to make sure inside the envelope we may afford we have been offering colleagues with essentially the most beneficiant early retirement bundle within the Caribbean”.
With no workforce discount goal in thoughts, Mr Sinclair added that BTC had needed to supply older staff near retirement with monetary “consolation” and choices for his or her future given the continued uncertainty produced by the COVID-19 pandemic.