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‘Go slow’ at BTC

Industrial action has hit the Bahamas Telecommunications Company, BTC officials reported yesterday.

In one department, work performance has dropped to under 20 percent, while in another department there seems to be an apparent”go slow”underway, according to Acting President and Chief Executive Officer I. Kirk Griffin.

“Frankly, we are disappointed that certain staff members, whether encouraged or not by those with their own agendas, are seemingly continuing industrial action against the company and hurting primarily the same customers whose payments to the company we rely on to help pay their salaries,”Griffin said in a statement.

“Hurting the very customers who you rely upon to pay your bills is in no way a productive undertaking.”

The statement continued,”BTC apologizes to customers seeking to call into the company’s call center using the 225-5282(CALL BTC)line. Whether the customers wish to ask a simple question or to register a fault with their service, most of the calls today and over the last few days go unanswered or, if answered, get put on hold for indefinite periods.

“We sincerely apologize to all of our customers for this and assure them that those responsible will be held accountable.”

BTC officials said they are convinced that certain segments of the company, whether”prodded on”or not, are seeking to create inconvenience for the customers of the company.

The unions are objecting to the proposed sale of 51 percent of BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications.

Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union President Bernard Evans indicated yesterday that the unions have not ordered any form of industrial action.

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Bernard Turner lifted an injunction that had been slapped on the unions. That injunction had prevented them from calling any action.

The union leaders agreed not to continue industrial unrest while an appeal against that decision is pending.

“What management needs to do is walk around and encourage the staff,”Evans said.”The unions have no idea what the company is talking about.”

Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union President William Carroll said the unions previously instructed their members to return to work.

“We don’t know anything about industrial action,”Carroll said.

The unions recently staged two major demonstrations in their attempt to block the sale.

According to Griffin, the call center statistics are clear.

He said that prior to the initial industrial action, call completion rates were well over 90 percent.

Since the action, and even yesterday call completion has been under 20 percent at times, according to Griffin.

He said there is an apparent”go slow”among certain of the repair and maintenance groups as well.

“Nonetheless, I am also pleased to say that we have had a good number of staff members who have reported to work and discharged their duties admirably during this whole episode,”Griffin said.

“Our plant has remained largely functional and much routine business of the company still manages to get done. We are grateful for those staff members who appreciate that there is a legitimate way to address grievances and who understand that the customers must always come first.”

The executive management reiterated its position that all stakeholders of BTC must utilize legitimate channels available to them to discuss and resolve any issue of importance.

“The executive management goes once again on record in its support for the privatization process of BTC as being undertaken by the Government of The Bahamas, recognizing that the sale of BTC and the full liberalization of the telecommunications marketplace are key elements of the development of the sector and the provision of optimal products and services to the Bahamian public,”the statement said.

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