As many as 2,000 workers could be facing the axe as the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) rebrands itself into the TSTT Group of Companies by November 1.
The company, according to the representing union, the Communication Workers' Union (CWU), said that number included the 1,600 to 1,700 permanent workers and an additional 200 or so casual and temporary workers.
The company hosted its customary “health of the business” meeting for all TSTT senior managers at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain, on Friday where the managers were informed of the upcoming changes and advised that seniors, outside of the union’s collective bargaining unit, would have to reapply for their jobs.
This means that some 364 senior managers will have to vie for 50 jobs when the company rebrands itself the TSTT Group of Companies.
This rebranding of the company is part of its restructuring process which could see hundreds more losing their jobs within the next month. The TSTT Group of Companies is expected to be rolled out by the end of October.
Friday’s meeting was led by TSTT’s chief executive officer Ronald Walcott and vice president of Human Resources Carol David. Both executives told the managers and professionals that the company would be renamed and they would have to reapply for their new jobs because the company was being split into four sub-companies- bmobile, Amplia, a tech division and a call centre.
The call centre and Amplia are already staffed and there would be no new jobs available in those divisions, according to company insiders.
Guardian Media was told that the senior members of the management team would also be losing their jobs in the restructuring exercise.
Amplia was previously Massy Communications but was bought by TSTT for $255 million in May last year. The multi-million dollar purchase was made by then TSTT chairman Emile Elias.
At the time of the contentious purchase, Elias defended his decision saying that it gave TSTT immediate access to an additional 34,000 residential clients in Diego Martin, Port-of-Spain, Trincity, Arima and San Fernando, which Massy Communications has already outfitted with fibre optic technology.
At Friday’s meeting, the senior managers were told that after an internal assessment they would either be redeployed within the company, have their jobs retooled or be retrenched.
The junior staff and other senior staff under management level are all under the union’s collective bargaining agreement, so they will face the Last In, First Out system.
The company is also moving away from copper to fibre optics, making all the linesmen redundant immediately.
Head of the CWU Clyde Elder yesterday confirmed the meeting and the pending job losses.
Elder, in a telephone interview, said he was more concerned about the junior executives and workers that were sure to lose their jobs when the company rebrands itself.
“This is just like Petrotrin but in reverse. Almost 2,000 workers could be affected and lose their jobs,” Elder said.
He said that while Petrotrin fired all the workers and then planned a new company, TSTT was planning a new company and then firing all the workers.
“The workers were told that by October 15, all TSTT’s residential fibre optic customers would now be transferred to Amplia,” Elder said.
“Amplia is already acquired. We challenged that move because of all of the corruption that surrounded that investments but it went ahead,” he said.
Elder said the move by TSTT means that workers would no longer have jobs and those who were re-employed would no longer have the protection of the union.
“This is the template of the (Dr) Keith Rowley-led PNM (People’s National Movement) which is to undermine the union,” he said.
Elder said the union wrote to Walcott seeking an urgent meeting two weeks ago but has yet to receive a response.
“The company is trying to tell the workers the union is aware and the union sanctioned the move but that is not true at all. Knowing and agreeing is two different things,” Elder said.
Guardian Media contacted Graeme Suite, senior manager of public relations and external affairs at TSTT for comment on the changeover and Friday’s meeting. Suite would only say that TSTT is not being broken up into four distinct parts. “It’s still one company with multiple specialised divisions,” he said.
He said Amplia remained a separate company but would still “report” to TSTT. Suite also responded to the number of senior managers at Friday’s meeting. He said of existing 300-plus managers and professionals, there were approximately 45 senior managers who attended.
“The meeting didn’t offer any details on the amount of positions to be filled just a high-level view the different business areas,” he said.
November 2015: Businessman Emile Elias appointed the chairman of the board at TSTT.
August 2016: TSTT announces a $3.7 billion injection to transform the company into an agile broadband communications company.
May 2017: TSTT buys out Massy Communications for $255 million.
October 2017: TSTT closes down nine retail outlets.
December 2017: TSTT rebrands Massy Communications with the new name Amplia.
September 2018: TSTT signals intention to transfer all residential fibre optic clients to Amplia.
October 2018: TSTT sets the stage to rebrand itself into the TSTT Group of Companies with four sub-divisions.