Nearly two dozen employees at The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), alongside union representatives, staged a lunchtime demonstration on Monday. The group is staunchly opposing the company’s plans to right size by shutting down its call center in The Bahamas
Following the sale of BTC, a heads of agreement attached to that deal outlined that call centers would not be outsourced, according to Dino Rolle of The Bahamas Communications Public Officers Union (BCPOU).
Fast forward to 2018, he said that BTC executives are planning to relocate the company’s call center to another country.
“Our new CEO has indicated that the call center, where a large number of BTC employees work; their jobs are at risk,” Rolle said, adding that the announcement was made two weeks ago.
According to Rolle, the BCPOU has attempted to have dialogue with management since the announcement was made, but those attempts have reportedly been ignored.
BTC employees marched with placards in hand Monday to express their displeasure with the move.
“We realize how this management team operates, particularly the CEO. He throws his rocks and then hides his hands,” Rolle claimed. “But behind the scenes he is doing what he has to do to move his own mandate forward.”
Rolle asserted that employees have felt the brunt of downsizing efforts at the telecommunications company since 2011.
He said the call center shut down will affect scores of employees.
“We are looking at hundreds of employees, because while he is talking about the call center, we have employees in the retail space and we have employees all throughout this business that is being targeted,” Rolle said.
Another bone of contention is an expired industrial agreement, according to Rolle.
“We are working under an expired agreement that is almost two years expired,” Rolle revealed.
“Our position is that management needs to return to the table and negotiate and complete the terms of a new industrial agreement.
“If that doesn’t happen I want management to know that this is just the first step and we will do whatever we have to do to make sure that our rights are protected and at the end of the day, a new industrial agreement is realized.”
Union affiliates under the umbrella of the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) said they are serious about throwing their support behind the BCPOU on these issues.
“We take this opportunity today to stand with our affiliate brother to let the word be known that we will also be on alert watching this matter as it unfolds and we would like to pledge our support for our affiliate from this day moving forward,” said Dwayne Woods, President, Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union.
“It is time for us to look at our own Bahamians and see their worth and value. Right now, it is a very terrible feeling in our country where you wake up tomorrow morning and you don’t know if you have a job or not,” stated Marvin Duncombe, President of the NIB Union.
“So, we want the BCPOU to know that we will be supporting them in their efforts to stand their ground and we will do whatever it takes to have their voices heard.”
“We have the full gamut of the entire unionized environment to give you the entire support that you need,” said Bernard Evans, president of the NCTUB.
Management has given no timeline as to when the shutdown will take place.
Unionists are prepared to shut down the company if they have to, according to Rolle.