Thirty-one employees of Guardian Media Limited (GML) are expected to receive retrenchment letters on Thursday; part of a restructuring exercise at the ANSA McAL Group of Companies (ANSA McAL) subsidiary.
Newsday got confirmation of the news late this afternoon from recently appointed ANSA McAL CEO, Andrew Sabga, and from the workers' representative union - the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU).
Sabga said "GML will be (issuing) an official statement very shortly. Mr Lucio Mesquita; the Managing Director of GML, will be issuing that statement."
When Newsday asked why Mesquita would be doing so if, as rumoured today, he had resigned, Sabga said, "No, that's not true."
Another rumour which Newsday heard later on was that ANSA McAl’s Group Human Resource Director, Teresa White, had been removed from her other post as Media Sector Head and replaced, temporarily, by Group Chairman, A. Norman Sabga.
Newsday was unable to confirm or deny this however, as subsequent calls to the CEO's phone went to voice mail.
One GML employee told Newsday that workers are "real demotivated" by what's been happening. The employee cited reports that a female reporter based at the Trinidad Guardian's San Fernando office, was covering a matter at the San Fernando High Court today when she was told to "come for her letter." The reporter was said to have gone home in tears.
Newsday was unable to verify this as of press time today.
The employee also said BIGWU is scheduled to hold a meeting at its Barataria head office this Saturday at 2 pm to discuss the latest developments at GML.
While BIGWU could not confirm if a "south reporter" is on the retrenchment list, it denied reports that retrenchment letters had been issued today.
"They're supposed to serve the notices tomorrow. They sent a letter to us around lunch time today, acknowledging our letter (in which) we invited the company to continue discussions. Notwithstanding our invitation, they went ahead and said that they will be serving notices to workers tomorrow (Thursday)."
BIGWU told Newsday that "the (affected) departments are content, news and operations. The total figure is 31 (workers). They have been invited to come to the HR Department in Chaguanas for 9 am tomorrow."
However the union official; who asked that his name not be used, said GML had questions to answer about its decision to service retrenchment notices when it is supposedly still in discussions with BIGWU.
"They have still not provided any cost-benefit analysis or work flows for the departments for this phase. How can you serve notices on workers and you have not continued the consultation process with the union, when you have not provided the union with any evidence whatsoever that there is surplus?"
The BIGWU official continued, "While we agreed on the Last In, First Out (LIFO) criteria, we never agreed that there would be job cuts. (During previous discussions) we were able to move them down from 73 to 40. July 12, 2017 was the last time we sat down with the company. Then, without any further discussion and after (some staff) accepted offers of early retirement, they came up with a final list of 33, which means that you've closed the door to discussions. It's almost tantamount to negotiating in bad faith. The list of 33 was reduced to 31 after the company re-deployed two workers elsewhere within the company."
BIGWU added that under the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act (Act), workers are entitled to a severance payment but under the Collective Agreement that the union has with GML, "the formula would be superior to that which is entailed in the Act.
Where the Act would come in, the union explained, is in the 45 days notice of retrenchment and in the option to seek the Labour Minister's intervention.
"The union will again attempt to engage the company in discussion, with a view towards rationalising these job positions. If that fails, then in accordance with the Act, we will seek the intervention of the Minister of Labour (Jennifer Baptiste-Primus)," the BIGWU official stated.