The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) says it will be cutting salaries temporarily in an effort to ensure the country’s largest telecommunications company survives the “turbulent times during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“This unprecedented situation is already having a severe financial impact on the business and we are just at the beginning. In a bid to ensure continued service provision and with an aim to retain staff for as long as possible, we had to make the tough call to collectively take salary cuts” GTT’s Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nedd was quoted as saying in a company statement.
The company says staff shall receive their full salaries in April and 90% of their salaries for the remainder of 2020 for those at work. For those who were unable to be reassigned and will be at home, they will receive 60% salary.
Executives will – as expected – take a larger percentage cut. “This move was understood and agreed to by staff, the union and the Department of Labour and will be revisited at the end of May as the situation unfolds,” the company said.
“Our focus is to ensure that people have money in their pockets to feed their families – while staying employed,” said Nedd.
The telecoms provider says hundreds of GTT staff have been working from home for several weeks now. Their technicians, once equipped and cleared, have been on the field and working 25% less hours at the same pay.
GTT says it is adamant that the steps taken to protect staff’s safety leads the way in the country and the firm is constantly looking for ways to improve. Two large shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) are expected in two weeks and technicians have always had the right to refuse work in the event of unsafe conditions.
In the past few weeks, GTT has taken several measures to support the call for physical distancing, including the closure of its retail outlets. The company’s actions have been in the interest of the health and well-being of its customers and staff – with online options for bill payment provided.
“Globally, unemployment rates are soaring as more and more companies move to layoffs – some large and well-known brands included. The US is seeing record unemployment and I suspect that the situation in Guyana will quickly evolve. With the best fiscal prudence in place, these are challenging and unprecedented times that call for unprecedented action. As a company, GTT has been financially strong – and we have survived the tides for nearly 30 years. To take our country through – and to hold on to our people for as long as we can, pardon us while we make our sacrifices. We are in this together – and will emerge stronger,” said Nedd.