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Sunday 18 August 2019
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Sabga and White on planned staff cuts at Guardian Media Limited

The selection criteria for pending job cuts at Guardian Media Limited (GML); a subsidiary of the ANSA McAL Group of Companies (ANSA McAl), have been agreed to by the union and management.

This was announced by Group Human Resource Director and Media Sector Head, Teresa White, in response to Newsday's questions about an on-going restructuring exercise at GML.

"There's been an extensive consultation with the union; we cannot deal directly with the employees because of the industrial relations regulations. The union has been informed of the names. We've agreed with the union (on) the process, the selection criteria. We're doing it strictly on a LIFO (last in, first out) basis; as is deemed best practice."

The question was posed during a press conference on ANSA McAl's results for the six months ended June 30, 2017. The event was held on August 10 at the TATIL building, Maraval Road, Port-of-Spain.

Speaking about the media sector's performance, ANSA McAl Chairman, A. Norman Sabga, said while they were still "in the process of restructuring" GML, those in charge had been able to "reverse the loss in the first quarter (of 2017) to pre-tax profit in the second quarter (of TT $0.27 million) and we believe there are good things to come for the remainder of the year."

Adding to what White had said, Sabga told Newsday that while they have "introduced new technology which is going to automate certain aspects of the print side of the business, (GML's) retrenchment is going to be less than that of the Express newspaper, significantly less, and we're trying to preserve as many of the jobs as we can."

That same day (August 10), GML also published its half-year results for period ended June 30, 2017. In his "Chairman's Remarks," Peter Clarke stated that "the company is reaching another key stage in its restructuring plan, as we proceed with the cost reduction required to adjust the business to the country’s new economic reality."

"Second quarter of 2017 generated $39.13million in revenues (against $32.67million in the first quarter of 2017) with a profit before tax of $0.78 million. However, due to Business Levy and Green Fund tax charges, our after tax results for the first six months of the year show a loss of $0.27 million."

Clarke added that "despite the tough trading environment and the difficult decisions we are making this year, we remain confident of Guardian Media’s strength." As such, its board has approved interim dividends of $0.10 per ordinary share (2016 - $0.10) and four percent for preference shares, which will be paid on November 6, 2017.

The $0.10 dividend payment was commented on at the ANSA McAl press conference, where one guest said he was "very pleased" by this because "it shows the strength" of GML going forward.

Sabga, responding to the man, said "that was a matter of discussion at the GML board, where they decided to pay the same interim dividend, because...in our centennial year, (GML is) looking to bounce back and there's a lot of great, wonderful ideas on the drawing board of new initiatives that are coming out."

"You are going to see some of it before the end of the year and there's a lot of young, talented, creative journalists (there). We're very, very pleased with what is coming out of the GML, so that (interim payment) shows the confidence that the board has in relation to the future," Sabga said.

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