The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) wants to make it abundantly clear to its members that the union did not come to an agreement with the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) on the organisation’s restructuring exercise.
“The Communication Workers’ Union has not agreed nor accepted that a restricting and a retrenchment is indeed warranted in TSTT,” secretary general Clyde Elder said during a news conference at the union’s Port-of-Spain headquarters on Tuesday.
His statement came after TSTT issued a press release yesterday titled “TSTT and CWU agree.”
The first line of the document said, “Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (TSTT) and its recognised majority union, the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU), have come to an agreement that will see the organisation continue with its restructuring exercise without delay.”
But Elder said this was misleading and the only thing that they were currently on the same page about was TSTT’s lawless actions, which caused the CWU to file an injunction in the Industrial Court.
He said this was important to outline because while some workers were happy to take their packages and go, others were not coping well.
“We have those who are on the brink of having suicidal thoughts,” he said.
On May 31, TSTT announced that it would send home 403 workers, 376 of whom were unionised, their retrenchment set to be effective on June 1.
Elder said this was against the law, as the union and the employees should have gotten 45 days’ notice. He said the company asked for their side to be heard after the injunction was filed and their chance was yesterday, but before the hearing they withdrew.
“What has since transpired is that attorneys of both the company and the union have been having discussions and the company, in fact, reached out to the union and indicated to the union that they wanted to now adhere to the laws.
“So effectively, the company was saying we accept that we did wrong and we want to make it right,” he said.
The retrenchment notice now starts on June 1 and ends on July 15.
Elder said this was exactly what they wanted and went to court to complain about the 45 days’ notice.
“So the union has been very successful and victorious with the consent order, the consent order is, in fact, an admission by the company that they were wrong sand that they are fixing their wrongs,” he said.
TSTT said this will not reduce employees’ severance packages in any way and retrenchment notices were also issued to 65 of TSTT’s management staff.
Elder said in the coming weeks, both parties will be in consultations as the union continues to fight.
Guardian Media contacted TSTT CEO Lisa Agard and Manager Media and Stakeholder Relations Janelle David for a comment on the union’s claims but all calls went unanswered.