BTC unions want injunction lifted
Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)unions are hoping to have set aside today an injunction secured by the company last week ordering them to end their”illegal work stoppage”.
TheBahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)and the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)led protests againstthe proposed sale of 51 percent of BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC).
The injunction granted by the Supreme Court restrains the unions and their 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].”
BCPMU President William Carroll said the unions have long since asked all employees to return to work and desist from industrial action.
In the meantime, he said the unions were considering how to continue their fight against the BTC sale to CWC.
“We’re still standing firm. That is clear. We want the government to hold off on the sale,”said Carroll, adding that the whole privatization process was flawed.
He called on the Bahamian public to join the unions in their fight.
“They need to put pressure on the government. If the government is using lowered cell costs as a selling point to say that Cable and Wireless will be good for the Bahamas then the government can do that itself,”Carroll said.
“It has the power. Privatization doesn’t reduce costs. Liberalization or competition does. Cable and Wireless will still have the monopoly for the next three years.”
The government has said that the BTC sale will lead to rate reductions. This reduction can happen at anytime, the union leader argued, as the government is in control of BTC.
David Shaw, CEO of LIME, CWC’s Caribbean arm, said on Thursday that BTC customers have been paying 20 to 30 percent more than they should for cellular services.
The unions rejected a meeting with Shaw last week.
BCPOU President Bernard Evans toldThe Nassau Guardianon Friday at BCPOU headquarters that the union is not interested in meeting with Shaw”at anytime”.
Shaw met with members of the opposition on Wednesday and the media on Thursday.
The unions led three days of industrial action in protest of the government’s decision to sell the BTC majority stake to CWC. The National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas is supporting the BTC unions.
The BTC unions criticized the government for what they described as extreme secrecy regarding the BTC deal since it was announced on December 2 that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with CWC.