Last Updated on Friday, 12 May 2017, 20:43 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Postal and Telecommunications Workers Union (GP&TWU) on Friday warned the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) that if it does not abide by a High Court order on plans to send home 120 workers more legal action would be taken.
GPTWU General Secretary, Eslyn Harris said after the Consent Order, GTT did not provide proper information at a meeting held last week Wednesday when a formal request was subsequently made for the telecoms company to provide its structure, departmental structure, the number of employees by name, status and service.
“The mere action of GTT, on the face of it, is in total disregard for the order that they signed. I flies in the face of the order and this union has no difficulty in re-approaching the court because the order is very clear,” she said in referring to the Order signed in April 12, 2017.
The GPTWU represents 270 workers at GTT.
She also cautioned GTT against summoning the union to give them a list and then send home the workers one month after under the guise of complying with the Consent Order. “No, no! We have no difficulty in approaching the Court again,” she said.
Harris stressed that the GPTWU was not opposed to GTT being restructured to achieve greater efficiency. “I want to re-emphasise: This union is by no means saying the company cannot reorganize, but is the manner in which it is done giving no concern to their long-serving employees, disregarding their years of service, disregarding the economic position, their psycho-social position,” she said.
High Court Judge, Rishi Persaud ordered GTT and GPTWU to sign a consent order requiring the phone company to give notice and consult the union in keeping with Collective Labour Agreement and the Termination and Severance Pay Act “before implementing its termination of unionized employees by reason or redundancy programme.” The Chief Labour Officer is also required to be notified and consulted in keeping with that law before sending home the workers.
Union President, Terrence Shepherd said it is unclear what is the total severance pay that the company would have to pay, but he noted that the Collective Labour Agreement provides for 70 weeks severance pay for a maximum of 33 years. He noted that six employees already sent home are senior workers who are not unionized.
Shepherd said the telecoms provider in March, 2017 contracted 17 persons to work in the call centre where “they are seeking to send home workers from.” “It’s totally uncalled for because how can you go and make a set redundant and you are still hiring on contract,” he said.
“We want to do a thorough analysis of what presently obtains within the company as it relates to the total number of employees where well be able to make an informed decision as the process moves forward,” he added.
Harris argued that “prudent management” requires the company to reassign workers instead of making “long serving, permanent employees of the company.”
GTT in February said workers had expected redundancy based on briefings and interactions by GTT’s Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nedd about the need to right size the company to remain viable in a liberalized telecoms sector.