The Telecommunications Services of T&T (TSTT) is calling out retrenched workers to fix lines for customers, as they do not have anyone to do repairs in critical areas, says Communication Workers Union (CWU) President Clyde Elder.
However, A TSTT official yesterday denied this, saying only that "TSTT has not called out any retrenched employee to effect repairs."
Elder, meanwhile, said it was ironic that the very same workers whom they had presented with retrenchment letters on Tuesday were the same ones they had to call out to effect repairs just two days later.
The CWU president dismissed concerns by TSTT and Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales that aggrieved workers might sabotage the company’s operations.
He said, "TSTT is now calling back out people to fix lines because they do not have anyone to do repairs in critical areas.
"The workers are coming to work every day to fix people’s lines. People who want to sabotage do not do that.
"How can you fear sabotage and then turn around and call back out the same people you fear sabotage from?" Elder questioned.
The union leader said the move to retrench hundreds of employees from TSTT has not been well-thought-out, and union officials have warned that it could land the company in further trouble if it is not properly executed.
He said because of the way they did it, "TSTT’s systems and services are in a complete mess."
Elder said customers are out of service and there is no way to rectify the situation right now. "There were plenty of cable cuts taking place before this retrenchment, we were complaining about it.
"Vandals are stealing copper cables, and they are cutting both the fibre optic and copper cables not knowing the difference, and that is creating a serious problem in providing service to customers."
He said it was a reality that customers may opt to switch to another provider if they are unhappy with TSTT’s service, which would lead to a further decline in revenue.
Meanwhile, government officials have said TSTT will be enhancing and upgrading its technology and as such, will not need line technicians and other staff as this type of infrastructure is phased out.
Indicating not everyone was against the move to downsize, Elder said they remain committed to the job and ensuring TSTT’s operations are not disrupted or compromised in any way.
A total of 468 employees–comprising both junior and senior staff–were handed retrenchment letters on June 1. Of this number, 376 are members of the bargaining unit.
The CWU was successful in obtaining an injunction from the Industrial Court the same day, effectively halting the exercise. The union will return to court on June 14.
Meanwhile, TSTT employees are ranked among the highest paid in the public sector, which translates to huge monthly revenue for the Government.
Elder agreed this retrenchment would have a ripple effect and "result in a greater burden being placed on the National Insurance Board (NIB) and its other services."
Referring to the current challenges being faced by the NIB in terms of satisfying its commitments, namely pensions and other benefits, Elder said T&T’s economy would be further negatively impacted by this move.
He said, "If TSTT does not arrest this poorly, not at all thought-out retrenchment procedure, then the company will be in some serious trouble."
Elder said duties would now be heaped on the shoulders of the remaining employees which was unfair, burdensome and overwhelming.
This, he said, could lead to further mental health issues arising among the remaining workforce.
A TSTT official said yesterday only that "TSTT has not called out any retrenched employee to effect repairs."
Departments and affected employees:
1. Chief Financial Office - 33
2. Chief Legal Counsel & Corporate Secretary Office - 2
3. Chief Technology Office - 35
4. Emerging Services - 2
5. Enterprise Services - 64
6. Shared Services - 68
7. Traditional Services - 130
8. Wireless Services - 134