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CWU ready to do battle over Cola at TSTT
The Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) said yesterday that it is prepared to “battle to the end” to protect the cost of living allowance (Cola) of workers at TSTT. CWU president Joseph Remy warned that “the formula for the calculation and application is not to be tampered with by anyone, from TSTT’s management to the line ministries”. Remy went to the media yesterday with the union’s concern that the telecommunications company was planning to adjust the Cola paid to its workers.
“Over the years, Cola has been calculated based on the economic principle of indexation. This meant that the allowance was applied and calculated based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as determined by the Central Statistical Office (CSO),” he said at a media conference, at CWU’s head office in Port-of-Spain.
The issue has come up as the company and union negotiation and new agreement for TSTT’s junior and senior staff. Talks began last month and on December 17 both sides signed off on terms of settlement for senior staff with Cola arrangement on similar terms as junior staff . Remy said two days later, on December 19, TSTT’s management returned to the bargaining table and said they had instructions to reduce the Cola.
“Over the years, the application of Cola was never an item in dispute. TSTT has once again resumed its attack on the economic principle of Cola by indexation,” he said. “This attack has the tacit approval of the board of directors and by extension the line ministries that TSTT reports to. It is also part of a national battle by employers to have the principle of Cola by indexation removed and replaced by fixed Cola,” Remy said.
“This is a major contradiction and we will always maintain that as long as the cost of living rises, there must be a commensurate change in the cost of living allowance to act as an economic buffer to protect the purchasing power of the workers’ dollar.” The CWU leader is calling for interventions by Public Utilities Minister Nizam Baksh and Finance Minster Larry Howai. He said that TSTT is operating in a “fiercely competitive” environment and an unstable industrial environment is not good”.
“This battle for Cola is critical for the progressive trade union movement. This principle is sacrosanct and as such will be defended by every possible resource available to the trade union,” he said.
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