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BTC on the brink

Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) Chief Executive Officer Garfield Sinclair said that infighting among the company and its unions could be fatal to all involved.

His comments came amid calls for his resignation from both the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union (BCPMU) after they said a meeting to discuss voluntary separation packages (VSEPs) for employees did not go well.

Sinclair, a Jamaican, was appointed to the position last August.

“It’s fatal to fight amongst ourselves in public. It’s fatal in the eyes of customers. It’s fatal in the eyes of our competitor, who is just licking their chops at this,” he said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.

“And when you’re a monopoly and don’t have competitors, fine, but when you do, this kind of infighting and behavior is fatal, and it cannot be where the idea is, ‘Let’s just burn down the whole thing if we don’t sort of get what we want, particularly when what we want is opaque at best.’”

The unions have also called for the resignation of Liberty Latin America (LLA) CEO Balan Nair.

Nair came under fire after videos of him criticizing BTC and its employees began making the rounds last week.

He made the comments at a recent Liberty Global town hall meeting in Jamaica, during which he said that BTC is one of Liberty Latin America’s lowest performing subsidiaries. Nair also joked about the prime minister asking for more jobs for Bahamians and being unable to look Sinclair in the eyes. He later apologized for his comments.

However, Sinclair said that he believes those demands are an overreach.

“We are at a bit of an inflection point here. We’re falling back on some instincts that could have an existential impact, not just on the business, but on the union,” he said.

“Unions won’t have anything to do if we don’t have a business. So, I just feel like we’re at an inflection point where we’re falling back on some potentially fatal instincts that belong on the dustheap of history.

“We’ve got to figure out how to work together in a modern competitive environment.

“…Let’s focus and refocus on what we ought to be: in how to beat the competition commercially; how to be better at what we do.

“But extending into dissension, infighting focusing on calling for the resignation of the CEO of LLA, who runs a business with nearly 30 operating entities in sovereign countries, just seems to be a bit of an overreach and unnecessary in the quest to do what we really need to do, and that is to compete more effectively in a competitive environment.”

He added, “When Balan was here and spoke to us in the town halls, he was frank. Nobody could say that Balan was not frank and open about the fact that there was heavy lifting to do here.

“He spoke about going into stores and not being as happy and seeing the sort of enthusiastic and customer-centric service and attention that he would have liked. He said that in our ops review and he’s called out the manager of the store that he went into when we had a town hall.

“He was frank and open here, and I thought it went over quite well. Now, obviously, he went down to Jamaica, a completely different commercial environment, a business that is on the move, growing, hitting targets, competing effectively, certainly from where they were coming from, and he made some comments that were clearly unfortunate and hurt a lot of feelings.”

Sinclair continued, “Balan’s apologies were accepted by the prime minister, and he said so in Parliament. He laid out a very emotionally balanced overview of what’s taken place and how we’d like to move forward. Unfortunately, there are others who would like to perpetuate this.

“We’re facing adversity and we’re falling back to old bad habits of turning on each other as a business instead of focusing on the business itself.”

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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