Director of Labour John Pinder said yesterday he believes the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is trying to “exploit” its employees.
Pinder said that he has a meeting today at noon with BTC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Garfield Sinclair to discuss the ongoing tension between the company and its unions.
“My view is that they’re trying to exploit workers, and certainly the unions cannot stand by and allow that to happen,” he said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
“And the Department of Labour always tries to keep industrial harmony between such an important employer as BTC…
“We expect that the management of BTC recognizes the contributions that BTC staff have made in the past, and try as best we can to address the issues and stop having them living with threats of losing their jobs.”
Both the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union (BCPMU) filed trade disputes over what they say is BTC’s failure to negotiate in good faith. Of particular concern has been the negotiation of voluntary separation packages (VSEPs).
The unions also called for Sinclair’s resignation over the difficulties in negotiating.
Sinclair said on Friday that there “could absolutely” be more VESEPs coming for employees at the company.
Both unions have also called for Liberty Latin America CEO Balan Nair’s resignation. He came under fire after videos of him criticizing BTC and its employees began making the rounds last week.
Pinder said he believes those inflammatory comments are the reason Sinclair is showing a willingness to meet with him.
“I’ve been trying to meet with Sinclair for months now ever since the BCPOU actually filed a trade dispute months ago and I’ve been trying to get a meeting with him,” he said.
“I spoke to him twice. On one occasion he said he was in Jamaica and he would give me a call as soon as he gets back to The Bahamas. I called again. He was still in no position to give me a date, so finally I was able to get a date for 12 p.m. tomorrow.
“I believe it all has to do with the fact that Nair made some derogatory remarks that caused the whole corporation now to be in uproar, and so he knows the remarks …certainly impact the entire Bahamian population.”