Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) will begin a voluntary separation program in the next few days, BTC Senior Manager of Public Relations Indira Collie announced on Friday.
“As we continue to compete in the rapidly evolving telecommunications industry, we are enhancing our operating model to ensure that we remain the provider of choice for the Bahamian people,” she said in a statement.
“As such, BTC will implement a voluntary separation program (VSEP) in the coming days and will share all relevant details of the offer with colleagues who wish to participate [in] the program.
“Colleagues will have the opportunity to indicate their interest during a specified period of time.”
Collie added, “BTC reaffirms our commitment to building a culture of high performance that will ensure that we have the right teams in place to deliver the moments that matter to our customers.”
The announcement follows tension between the company and its unions.
Both the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union (BCPMU) filed trade disputes last month over what they said was BTC’s failure to negotiate in good faith. Of particular concern was the negotiation of the voluntary separation packages (VSEPs).
BCPMU President Ricardo Thompson said yesterday that while employees will be free to determine whether the packages are appealing to them, the negotiation of the terms did not go as well as he had hoped they would.
“The company decides this is the avenue we will use to see if we can draw out a certain number of persons. Our position was really to say to them that what was being offered wasn’t attractive, and, therefore, our members probably weren’t going to take it,” Thompson said.
“…They would have made some changes and they came back with something that they said was their ultimate, and that’s what they’re actually presenting to the employees next week.”
He added, “We had proposed something that was far beyond what is coming out. They thought it was ridiculous, but we thought it was reasonable.
“They didn’t meet us even halfway, but we’ll just let the employees make the call.”
When BTC Chief Executive Officer Garfield “Garry” Sinclair spoke with The Guardian last month, he would not say exactly how many BTC employees the company would need to let go of in order to streamline the operation, but he said the idea of the VSEP would be to readjust the culture of the company and not simply staffing levels.
During the discussion, Sinclair explained that BTC currently operates at an operational expense ratio of 52 cents to the dollar, which he said needs to be reduced in order for the company to continue to compete in the telecoms market.
Sinclair contended VSEPs are not to be “feared”, and recounted examples of several former BTC employees who thrived from the packages they chose to accept.
He said 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.