BTC union officials back in court today
Attorneys for the unions that represent workers at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company will today ask a Supreme Court judge for an injunction blocking the sale of a majority interest in BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC).
Justice Neville Adderley is scheduled to hear the matter.
The hearing will take place as the government and CWC officials work speedily to finalize the controversial deal.
“The issue for the unions isn’t Cable and Wireless,”said attorney Maurice Glinton last week, who represents the unions in the matter.
“It just so happens that Cable and Wireless is the one that’s on the hot seat.”
Glinton added,”The key issue is the unions’interest in maintaining the wealth and the health of the corporation to which they are tied. Their livelihoods, their pensions, everything else is tied to the existence of the corporation.
“BTC is just the company that was formed in 1999 by the government into which they will take all of the assets of the corporation and invest them in BTC and pretend it is the same business that’s going on.”
In a writ filed recently, the unions’legal team contends that the government has no authority to sell BTC because an act of Parliament made the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation(BaTelCo)a self-owning and self-sustaining entity.
“In 1966 Parliament passed the law establishing the corporation as a body corporate with perpetual succession,”Glinton explained toThe Nassau Guardian.
“And then it transferred, vested in the corporation all of the undertakings that were then owned by the government, and in that act the corporation was supposed to pay for it by the issue of bonds to repay the government for the value of it, which we must presume it did.
“And if that’s the case, how then can the government own it twice?”
Glinton said if any sale goes through before the court action is concluded, that would have no impact on the action.
“If any purchaser is that irresponsible or that careless or that desperate, more power to them, but the action continues,”he said.
The unions and their legal team are seeking the injunction to stop the sale pending the outcome of the hearing of the substantive case.
Focusing on court action as opposed to taking to the streets as they did last month, the unions have gone quiet in recent weeks.
But President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)Bernard Evans insisted recently that the unions remain fully committed to blocking the sale to Cable and Wireless.
CWC, meanwhile, has started advertising in the local press, reportedly in an effort to improve its public image and better inform the Bahamian community of its track record in the region.