By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union has filed an injunction preventing BTC from laying off 140 employees, according to union President Bernard Evans.
At a press conference yesterday, Mr Evans said the union will not stand by idly while BTC executives “blatantly” disregard the rules outlined in the union’s industrial contract.
He also said the union is not pleased with what the company has offered the remaining employees.
Last week, according to union executives, BTC informed them it would begin its first round of downsizing on June 30, making 140 persons redundant.
The union announced shortly afterwards that strike action was “very possible.”
“Our hope is that the company will not be able to carry out their wishes in terms of outsourcing staff because they did not follow the letter of the terms of (our) agreement as it relates to redundancies. By law we are supposed to have dialogue, we were supposed to be provided with a list of areas to be outsourced and personnel that will be impacted. Members are supposed to be notified and given 120 days notice and the time off to look for employment elsewhere,” Mr Evans said.
“They are in direct contravention of our industrial agreement and we hope we will prevent them from carrying out their proposed exercise. BTC is a money making machine, they are sponsoring everything. If you open a tin of corned beef they will sponsor it and it’s all about profit. They need the employees, service has been going downhill and if they reduce staff any further you can only imagine what kind of service you can expect to achieve,” he added.
Mr Evans admitted that the severance packages being offered to exiting employees were reasonable, but he said what is being offered to the employees that remain at BTC is “unacceptable.”
“We received a proposal from management yesterday (Monday) and it still falls short. We are pleased with what they offered to the exiting employees, but for those remaining there are still a number of outstanding issues we have to conclude. The offer is unfair for those who remain, but we do appreciate the offer made by BTC for those who are exiting the company,” Mr Evans said.
“We have visited our lawyers, trying to do the right thing, the legal thing, so we have filed an injunction. We hope to have that in our possession or get notification of it, if not by the end of the Tuesday by Wednesday morning.
“Management did give an extension somewhat (to the layoffs), members were not given letters yet but we did not get it in writing and so we won’t be surprised if they renege on that so-called verbal promise for delay.”
Mr Evans said the union is expected to meet with its members “very soon” to determine the way forward.
The Tribune understands that some of the areas to be affected by the redundancies include some retail stores, billing departments and directory publications, among others. BTC has advised the union that the employees impacted by the planned layoffs come from areas that have been identified for outsourcing. BTC has reportedly advised the government that it anticipates union and employee backlash from the redundancies and will increase security at its locations as a result.
In February, it was reported that BTC has plans to cut between 150 to 250 jobs in preparation for competition in the mobile phone sector.
BTC CEO Leon Williams has defended the move and said that the impending cuts were strictly business related.