BTC unions agree to national debate
The presidents of the unions representing workers at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)have accepted the invitation to a televised debate extended by BTC chairman Julian Francis regarding the sale of 51 percent of the company to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC).
At a meeting yesterday at the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)headquarters at Farrington Road, BCPOU president Bernard Evans and Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)president William Carroll said they would allow Francis the opportunity to state when and where the debate would take place.
“Although we feel that you have lost all credibility in the public eye and with all levels of staff at BTC, we accept your open challenge to a national debate carried live on radio and television,”said Evans.”Despite your insults and name-calling, we will debate you to your face at a time and place of your choosing. It’s on Mr. Chairman the people comin’!”
The unions have been agitating for the government to call off the BTC sale to British-based CWC. The unions have argued that BTC should be sold to Bahamians.
Francis was quoted inThe Tribuneon Tuesday challenging the union leaders to a debate. He toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday that he looks forward to the debate.
“I don’t want to make a big deal about it, but it would be a good forum,”Francis said.
Both Evans and Carroll said Francis’use of the word”shame”in his remarks on Tuesday offended them and the workers at BTC.
“To suggest that the public interest could be advanced by attempting to cause shame on duly elected officials of the BCPOU and the BCPMU speaks volumes of Mr. Francis’ignorance of the real issues and his lack of respect for the people he was appointed to lead and serve,”said Evans.
The union leaders also suggested that the government has engaged in a campaign to discredit them and the workers of BTC in an attempt to”divide and conquer the Bahamian people.”
The unions are also continuing a call for the release of the full Memorandum of Understanding(MOU)between the government and CWC. They argue that the absence of the MOU makes the BTC sale appear to be a”secret”deal done by the government.
Francis said that the content of the deal has already been revealed and the unions are simply being”impatient”and”anxious.”
“There will be no surprises,”he said.”As I said, the details of the MOU have already been disclosed. That’s a non-issue.”
The National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas(NCTUB) yesterday called upon Francis to resign as BTC chairman.