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Unions reject BTC political row

Unions fighting the sale of 51 percent of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)yesterday blasted the government over the political row that has erupted over the issue.

The unions called on the government to end its”petty and fruitless attempt”to draw the organizations into a partisan public debate on the merits of the companies.

The statement by the Bahamas Joint Labour Movement(BJLM), which comprises both the National Congress of Trade Unions(NCTU)and the Trade Union Congress(TUC), came a day after both the government and the Progressive Liberal Party released press statements on the proposed sale, each claiming their plan for BTC was better.

“The BJLM is deeply saddened by the government’s feeble attempt to draw the movement into a debate between the PLP and Free National Movement concerning a comparative analysis on the amount of money that would possibly have been derived from the sale of BTC either to Bluewater or Cable&Wireless Communications(CWC)or LIME(Landline, Internet, Mobile, and Entertainment),”the union statement said.

“BJLM strongly believes that there are qualified and available Bahamian professionals who have the capacity to operate an efficient and profitable BTC in a competitive and liberalized environment and hold fast to the position that BTC should be reserved for Bahamians,”the unions said.

They claimed that the continued verbal abuse of BTC by government ministers in recent weeks is an indication that the government has no confidence in the ability of Bahamians to operate an effective and profitable telecommunications company in the 21st century.

The BJLM stressed that it will not allow the prime minister to reduce this critical national issue to a petty political debate.

On Wednesday, demonstrators overran police barricades and clashed with officers on Bay Street.

The unions made good on their promise to bring their ire over the sale to the House of Assembly.

“The demonstration on December 15, 2010 was solely about the government entering into a MOU with CWC for the sale of BTC for$210 million. The BJLM totally rejects the prime minister’s assertion that the discussions should be focused on a comparison between CWC and Bluewater Ventures Ltd. and restate our strong belief that BTC should be for Bahamians,”the BJLM contended.

The BJLM statement demanded that the government provide it with a copy of the MOU with C&W, forthwith; reverse its course of action in relation to selling BTC to CWC; and take immediate steps to enter into talks with its tripartite partners to allow Bahamians to purchase the shares of BTC via an initial public offering.

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