BTC’s operations in the Family Islands close; employees did not report to work
Bahamas Telecommunications Company’s (BTC) operations in the Family Islands, “with the exception of Andros”, were closed yesterday because employees did not report to work. Stores on New Providence remained open. Dino Rolle, president of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU), told Guardian Business yesterday that BTC employees decided “to take a break” because “they just couldn’t take it any more”.
BTC’s Chief Executive Officer Garry Sinclair explained in a statement that he had not heard from BCPOU on the incident.
“Our union partners have not yet contacted me, so I’m frankly unaware of what might have precipitated this action. However, it comes right on the heels of several positive developments regarding the welfare of our colleagues.
“We recently completed the terms of an industrial agreement with the BCPOU at the end of April, an agreement that had been pending for almost two years. Immediately thereafter, we began contract negotiations with the BCPMU (Bahamas Communications Public Managers Union). We already provide an impressive compensation and benefits structure, which cannot be rivaled in this country. Just two weeks ago, we introduced the most progressive parental policy in the region. Parental leave was increased to eight weeks for fathers and those becoming parents through adoption and surrogacy and to sixteen weeks for mothers.”
While Sinclair contends he is unaware of any reason staff would not report to work, Rolle claimed that over the past several months to a year, BTC’s employees “have become more anxious” because they believe their jobs are being threatened.
“We have observed among our respective unions, a look of anxiety, a look of concern and stress, as they are threatened on a regular basis of their jobs being transferred offshore to other jurisdictions in the region.”
Rolle said BTC’s staff wants a concrete plan for the direction of the company.
“I think the company needs to be stabilized…the company needs to come up with a clear plan on how to grow,” Rolle said.
“It lacks growth and I think what needs to be sold to the staff is a clear plan on how the company plans to grow in the short term, so they can buy into that plan.”
Rolle insists the dissatisfaction of BTC’s staff has reached a “boiling point”.
BTC had recently announced a change in its maternity and paternity leave policy, adding weeks on for new parents. The move was touted as progressive and hoped to reach staff on a personal level.
Yesterday, Sinclair apologized to customers in his statement and reminded his staff that customers “now have a viable mobile alternative to BTC and it’s imperative that they always believe they’re our highest priority”.
“While I’m sure service disruptions like these are done with the best of intentions, we also have to ensure that in this rapidly changing competitive environment, the customer is at the heart of everything we do,” Sinclair said.
“I intend to reach out to the presidents of both unions, to determine what is required for a return to normal operations in the shortest possible time.”
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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