Unions sue govt
The Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPOU)are seeking a declaration from the Supreme Court that the government does not have the legal authority to sell the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC).
The writ filed yesterday represents the unions’third phase of their four-point plan to seek to block the sale of 51 percent of BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications(BCPOU), said BCPOU president Bernard Evans.
Flanked by executive members of the unions after lawyers filed the document in the Supreme Court registry, Evans said the unions are confident in the steps that they have taken.
“We are confident in what our legal team was able to share with us that maybe the government is wrong, that they never had the right to sell or offer for sale BTC,”he said.
“Hopefully, they(the lawyers)are right in this matter and BTC will be back in the hands of the people, rightfully so where it deserves to be.”
The unions have repeatedly said that they plan to intensify their opposition to the sale of BTC, and hinted that their actions could quite possibly involve a general strike if the government fails to relent on the matter.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company, Board Chairman Julian Francis and the attorney general are all listed as defendants.
Attorney Maurice Glinton, who represents the unions, said it is no longer a question of whether to sell BTC. He said the unions take the position that BTC cannot be sold.
“In order for it to do that it has to first form this company called BTC and divest the corporation of its assets and put it in the company for selling it.
“Heretofore the argument. ..has always been on the so-called right of government to do what it is doing, but without really dealing with this whole question as to whether the government still owns the corporation because from our knowledge of things and the way they progressed, the corporation became a self owning corporation since about the day of its establishment.”
The contention is that the assets that were held by BaTelCo were never legally transfered to BTC when it was formed.
The unions are seeking a number of declarations, including a declaration that BTC’s creation amounted to an illegal taking of the property of BaTelCo.
“We are not ready to assume that the government in fact owned BaTelCo at the time…As far as we know that corporation is still in existence and so long as it is in existence it has a statutory responsibility, in fact several statutory responsibilities,”Glinton said.
“The 1999 Act sought to dismember it and to relieve it of some of its productive assets in its capacities but as a matter of law we doubt whether it could have been done or if it could have been done whether the manner in which they went about it, that they got it right.”