Injunction issued against BTC unions
Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)unions have been slapped with an injunction ordering them to end their”illegal work stoppage”.
But the unions continued demonstrations yesterday against the proposed sale of 51 percent of BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)andThe Nassau Guardianlearnt last night that further action was being planned with the support of affiliate unions.
A significant number of BTC workers remained off the job for a second day, severely impacting operations.
BCPOU President Bernard Evans said he is willing to go to jail for the cause that he and union members are fighting for.
Evans led a motorcade yesterday bringing traffic to a near standstill downtown.
He insisted the union leaders have done nothing wrong.
Evans said all they are attempting to do is protect the rights of Bahamians.
“They could bring the handcuffs. This is a cause I am willing to go to jail for,”he told the media just minutes before the start of the motorcade.
“We always preach this thing about empowering Bahamians and this is the golden opportunity to do just that. If you look at the phone card vendors and the wholesalers BTC has made them millionaires. So this is just a microcosm of what could happen. Give us that opportunity man.
“This is something that we know how to do. We’ve been doing this for years. As a nation we ought to encourage that, try to get Bahamians to be a part of this economic pie.”
The unions’industrial action shut down the company’s retail and customer service centers and inconvenienced some BTC subscribers for a second day.
Asked about why he was leading the demonstration, Evans said it was just as much for the Bahamian public at large as it was for the unions.
“This is not just a BCPOU fight. This is a Bahamian fight to save one of its most prosperous corporations that we believe should stay in the hands of Bahamians,”he said.
Evans added that he along with the leadership of the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)have asked employees to go back to work, but he said the fed up workers are not responding to the unions.
“We are not restraining our members. So they[BTC executives]are charging us, saying we are causing them(employees)not to go back to work; they are incorrect.”
Evans said the unions want the government to hold off on the sale.
“We want the government to say’hey there is too much agitation about this sale to Cable and Wireless. Let’s ease off and let everyone have a good Christmas and let’s take this up after the new year and see how we can explore those opportunities’. We believe in privatization and divesting BTC but we believe it should be divested to Bahamians so it could be here for our future. There’s no need to rush this. The company is not broke,” he said.
“Let the money remain in the country.”
BTC obtained an injunction from the Supreme Court that restrains the unions and its leadership from”in any manner interfering with or impeding the employees of[BTC]from engaging in their lawful occupations”or”from inducing or procuring employees of[BTC]to break with their respective contracts of employment by taking part in any unlawful industrial action against[BTC].”
Acting CEO of BTC Kirk Griffin said yesterday the company was forced to take that action.
“Frankly speaking, the executive team at BTC is not in any way happy that we have had to take this step,”he said in a statement.
“As we went on record[Tuesday]saying, we believe that there is a much more productive way to serve the interest of all BTC stakeholders. And that is through open and honest dialogue with all the parties involved.
“We hope that this injunction would bring an end to the illegal work stoppage and we know the parties in this process are open to discussion on all matters of mutual interest.”
Griffin said he remained confident that”staff as they have been doing all along will return to office and will provide top notch service and support to BTC’s customers as this phase of the sales process works its way.”