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Staff cuts at TSTT
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) wants Finance Minister Larry Howai to order a forensic audit into operations at state-owned TSTT.
Making the call during a press briefing at the CWU Hall in Port-of-Spain yesterday, secretary general Joseph Remy accused the company of “hardcore nepotism” and unfair and unethical hiring practices.
He said TSTT’s management was planning to send home 25 per cent of the 2,800-member workforce, and 200 workers, who are not members of the bargaining unit, have accepted voluntary separation and early enhanced retirement packages (VSEP/EERP) and will be leaving the company over the next five months. Remy said another 500 workers are now being targeted.
Remy said staff reductions are part of TSTT’S strategic five-year plan to reduce operating costs and had been revealed by acting CEO George Hill at a recent breakfast forum.
Remy said the company’s aim is to reduce the number of bargaining unit workers and to reduce the wage bill to around 40 to 45 per cent of revenue. He said a $1.5 billion loan is being negotiated and 50 per cent of it will go toward VSEP/EERP.
The CWU leader described this as “an obscene attempt by the company to gain public sympathy as they continue their attack on bargaining unit workers.” He said the union had not been approached by TSTT’s management on the matter.
“There is no approved VSEP/EERP in place at this time for bargaining unit staff at TSTT.”
Talks between TSTT and the CWU broke down earlier this month and the matter will be referred to the Labour Ministry as a trade dispute.
“It is apparent that somebody else is now in control of TSTT and it does not appear to be the acting CEO. Somebody else from the board level who has strong links to a political party has to be in control of TSTT because the decisions that are being taken do not augur well and are not in the best interest and viability of TSTT and the company’s profitability,” Remy said.
The union leader also questioned lease arrangements for a public office at Caroline Building in Tobago. He said workers there were not told that heavy construction and renovation work would be taking place. The CWU is advising the public not to visit that office as workers have exercised their rights under Section 15 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act not to work in unhealthy conditions.