Job cuts hover over TSTT

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.

TIME­LINE

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.

- by Renuka Singh

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