Trinidad and Tobago
This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

[UPDATED] CWU: Some workers barred from TSTT despite court order

News
Sean Douglas Communications Workers Union (CWU) Clyde Elder
Communications Workers Union (CWU) Clyde Elder

COMMUNICATION Workers Union (CWU) head Clyde Elder said on Wednesday that some workers had told him they had been barred from entry to the premises of TSTT.

This came after the union got an Industrial Court injunction on Tuesday freezing the company's earlier serving of retrenchment letters to the 376 workers represented by the CWU, out of the 468 workers targeted for retrenchment.

He told Newsday, "Some workers have reported they were not allowed onto the compound, in violation of the order. That is something we have to treat with right now. We'll seek guidance and advice on that."

But TSTT, in a brief statement to Newsday, said later, "No individual represented by the CWU was denied access to any TSTT building."

Asked if the CWU had any counterproposals to TSTT's move to retrench, Elder replied that the union had put several on the table, but the company simply didn't seem interested in engaging.

"Why not let people who want to leave, leave? You don't even have to give them the enhanced retrenchment package, but just the usual retrenchment package."

Likewise he said TSTT could facilitate the exit of people who were close to retirement. However, he said whatever proposals the CWU had put forward, TSTT had refused.

He alleged that TSTT was carrying out an alleged government agenda "to decimate TSTT, to kill the union and promote Amplia, without any unionised workforce."

Newsday asked what was the mood among workers.

Elder replied TSTT had found itself in a serious problem on Wednesday morning. He said when TSTT found some of its lines down and in need of repair, it had asked some of the same workers set for retrenchment to fix them.

"But workers are so demoralised that nobody wants to report for work after today."

He said the court hearing was set for June 14.

"The court will determine for itself whether TSTT's actions (serving retrenchment letters) were in line with the Retrenchment and Severance of Benefits Act. If the court finds there was no offence by TSTT, the matter will be dismissed. But if the matter has merit, I expect the court to uphold the law and TSTT to follow suit."

On Tuesday, Elder had told Newsday TSTT had sent retrenchment notices to 376 staff in the bargaining unit, about 28 security guards represented by the Estate Police Association, plus a number of managers and professionals.

TSTT said 468 staff in all were to be retrenched, including 403 employees (senior, junior and security staff) who were to be sent home as of Wednesday and be paid in lieu of 45 days' notice. Newsday asked TSTT CEO Lisa Agard for the company's response to the injunction.

The brief TSTT statement sent to Newsday said, "With respect to the legal matter, the matter is before the court and we would therefore decline comment at this time."

Some 51 per cent of TSTT is owned by the National Enterprises Ltd (NEL), which itself is majority-owned by the Government, while Liberty Latin America (LLA) holds a 49 per cent stake in TSTT, acquired when it bought Cable and Wireless (C&W) in 2016. LLA has said it is still committed to meeting C&W's promise to sell its TSTT shares following C&W's acquisition of Columbus/Flow.

Otherwise, a 2016 report by a Cabinet-appointed committee chaired by economist Dr Terrence Farrell had urged that Government sell its TSTT shareholding, saying, "There is no longer a compelling strategic reason to maintain an investment in a telecommunications company operating in a competitive environment, which is marginally profitable or loss-making, and which requires significant capital injections to be competitive against formidable competitors."

Asked if the Government had plans to sell its TSTT shares, Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales told Newsday on Wednesday, "Not a consideration at this time."

This story has been updated to include additional details. Read original story below: 

COMMUNICATION Workers Union (CWU) head Clyde Elder said on Wednesday that some workers have told him they have been barred from entry to the premises of TSTT.

This was in spite of the union's getting an Industrial Court injunction on Tuesday freezing the company's serving of retrenchment letters to 468 workers earlier.

He told Newsday, "Some workers have reported they were not allowed onto the compound, in violation of the order. That is something we have to treat with right now. We'll seek guidance and advice on that."

Asked if the CWU had any counterproposals to TSTT's move to retrench, Elder replied that the union had put several on the table, but the company simply didn't seem interested in engaging.

"Why not let people who want to leave, leave? You don't even have to give them the enhanced retrenchment package, but just the usual retrenchment package."

Likewise he said TSTT could facilitate the exit of people who were close to retirement. However, he said whatever proposals the CWU had put forward, TSTT had refused.

He alleged that TSTT was carrying out an alleged government agenda "to decimate TSTT, to kill the union and promote Amplia, without any unionised workforce."

Newsday asked what was the mood among workers.

Elder replied TSTT had found itself in a serious problem on Wednesday morning. He said when TSTT found some of its lines down and in need of repair, it had asked some of the same workers set for retrenchment to fix them.

"But workers are so demoralised that nobody wants to report for work after today."

He said the court hearing was set for June 14.

"The court will determine for itself whether TSTT's actions (serving retrenchment letters) were in line with the Retrenchment and Severance of Benefits Act. If the court finds there was no offence by TSTT, the matter will be dismissed. But if the matter has merit, I expect the court to uphold the law and TSTT to follow suit."

On Tuesday, Elder had told Newsday TSTT had sent retrenchment notices to 376 staff in the bargaining unit, about 28 security guards represented by the Estate Police Association, plus a number of managers and professionals.

TSTT said 468 staff in all were to be retrenched, including 403 employees (senior, junior and security staff) who were to be sent home as of Wednesday and be paid in lieu of 45 days' notice. Newsday asked TSTT CEO Lisa Agard for the company's response to the injunction, but up to publication time had not received a reply.