BTC management calls protest an’illegal work stoppage’
Management of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)expressed their ire yesterday at what they termed an”illegal work stoppage”by the company’s union members, which halted business at BTC’s retail and customer service centers across the island.
Members of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union walked off of the job yesterday in protest of the government’s imminent sale of a 51 percent stake in BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications, and marched to BTC’s head office on John F. Kennedy Drive to voice their disdain.
BTC’s Acting President and CEO Kirk Griffin, in a written statement, maintained that the work stoppage was not in accordance with the industrial agreements between the unions and the company.
“It is disappointing to us that the unions would take this approach to address this or any situation-particularly because there exists within the union agreements clear steps for the escalation and adjudication of industrial matters whenever they occur,”said Griffin.
“BTC has not been informed of any industrial proceedings that would provide for a sanctioned work stoppage,”he pointed out.
Griffin added that his office heard of the work stoppage only hours before it issued the public statement regarding the industrial action that was underway.
“We learned early this morning that the management and non-management unions had organized industrial action for this morning.”he said.”This meant that in Nassau at least, most staff did not report for work at their scheduled times and this led to a disruption of all services we provide to our customers here in the capital.”
According to the statement, BTC’s customer service centers and stores were closed across the island yesterday, and scheduled maintenance and installations could not be completed.
“There were no reports of any such industrial unrest in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands,”the statement revealed.
According to Griffin, management and staff of the company have been working to complete the due diligence phase of the BTC sale.
“Obviously, we are aware that with the imminent sale of the company, many staff members are concerned and uncertain about what this will mean for them individually and collectively,”he said.
“However the union leadership is aware that Cable&Wireless, as the potential buyer, has informed them of their desire to undertake early discussions with the leadership of the unions so as to ensure that both sides have an opportunity to introduce themselves formally and commence discussion on matters of mutual interest.”