NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Members of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union, (BCPOU) on Monday protested outside of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) headquarters, expressing fears that contracted workers at BTC will soon be made redundant.
According to BCPOU president, Dino Rolle, BTC, under the management of Liberty Latin America, has allegedly undertaken a program to constructively dismiss a number of persons.
He also claimed that staff was reportedly informed last week that the call center would be transferred to a different region.
Rolle referred to the proposed move is a slap in the face for contracted workers who have been waiting for years to enjoy the same benefits as full-time employees.
“We understand that this company, BTC, is contemplating a mass exodus in the shortest period of time,” Rolle alleged, flanked by BCPOU members as well as representatives from the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union (BCPMU).
Rolle claimed that several weeks ago, two representatives of Liberty Latin America’s global office in Miami flew to Nassau and spoke directly to employees at BTC’s call center.
He alleged that employees were told that by the end of August, calls taken at the call center would be transferred to another jurisdiction.
Rolle further claimed that the company was ‘cloning’ departments and asking persons to apply for jobs that were already filled.
“People are sitting to their desks and see their very jobs; their functions being put up as a vacancy notice for persons to apply for their job. My members are being constructively dismissed and at the end of the day they would be rendered redundant,” Rolle alleged.
The BCPOU president therefore called on the government to step in and protect Bahamian workers.
According to Rolle, there are almost 100 young persons employed at BTC who cannot benefit from the union’s industrial agreement as legacy employees, even though they have been employed for five or more years.
A lot of these persons, he said, cannot start their lives.
“They can’t go to the bank and they can’t do the things that our parents would have been able to do for us, like send us to school. They can’t acquire mortgages to begin their lives,” Rolle said, adding that this is a breach of the Employment Act and a breach of the union’s industrial agreement.
Rolle said he believes that such persons should be full-time employees, enjoying all of the benefits of the union’s industrial agreement.
He said as it now stands, the union is prepared to do any and everything in the confines of the law to protect workers.
Rolle said essentially, BTC is rendering these employees ‘redundant’ and he is concerned that they will be left on the street with absolutely nothing to do.
“No letters have been issued and as a matter of fact ourselves and our sister union has been called into an emergency management meeting tomorrow and we anticipate that this is the crying period for us and our members,” Rolle said.
Kendrick Knowles, Vice President of the BCPMU, said his union was standing with the BCPOU because they were both facing the same issues.
“We see the situations going on in this company that are impacting the workers, the line staff and the managers,” Knowles said. “We believe that this company was made by Bahamians and they should be given an opportunity to uphold the trust and the honour that has been developed over the years in this company.”
Knowles said the Bahamians employed at BTC should be given every opportunity to advance and benefit from the organization. He also noted that from a management perspective, the BCPMU wants to have an input into how they can help to make the company better.
Meanwhile, Rolle, the BCPOU president said he wanted all and sundry to know that with the BCPOU and the BCPMU working together, the sky was the limit and they would do any and every thing to protect and defend its members and speak on behalf of workers.
Attempts to reach BTC officials for comment up to press time on Monday proved futile.