BCPOU files trade dispute against BTC

Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) President Dino Rolle said yesterday that the union has filed a trade dispute with the Ministry of Labour against the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) over its proposed voluntary separation packages (VSEPs).

BTC Chief Executive Office Garfield “Garry” Sinclair said on Friday that there “could absolutely” be more VSEPs coming for employees at the company, noting that the exercise helps to draw out the best talent available in the company and is therefore necessary to improve the culture of a business.

The BCPOU cited the company’s failure to negotiate in good faith on those packages as the reason for their dispute and claimed that that goes against the union’s collective bargaining agreement, which suggests that negotiations should ensue with the unions before a formal proposal is made to the staff.

“On Friday July 19, Mr. Sinclair emailed me and very pointedly stated in his email, that he is ‘respectfully concluding our consultative discussions’ and he will be moving ahead with the launch of the VSEP program at BTC in the coming days,” Rolle said in a statement.

“You can’t get clearer than that. Unfortunately, it seems as though Mr. Sinclair was attempting to deter the unions and had hoped that we would have gone away quietly and forfeited the rights of our members.”

Sinclair told Guardian Business that there are “fantastic” and “energetic” employees at BTC who are ready to “get on” with business, and he said VSEPs can extract those who are not interested in continuing with the company.

While he would not indicate exactly how many BTC employees the company would ideally need to let go of in order to streamline the operation, he said the idea of the VSEP would be to readjust the culture of the company and not simply staffing levels.

But Rolle has insisted that the BTC executive’s actions are “disingenuous”. He said he is confident that following their action with the Ministry of Labour, the company will be back to the negotiation table.

“Our only aim is to ensure that our members are treated fairly and offered equitable packages commensurate with their years of service,” Rolle said.

“Additionally, we have to be very deliberate with our actions to ensure that the VSEP packages are designed appropriately.”

He added that the union is committed to its efforts of negotiating what is best for its members and urged Sinclair to spend less time trying to sway public opinion and more time building internal consensus with his teams.

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Sloan Smith

Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas. Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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