TSTT on Tuesday shut down all nine of its bmobile branches in Trinidad, rendering some staff fearful for their jobs and leaving customers to resort to agents such Lotto outlets which are ill-equipped to serve clients in their billing queries, Communication Workers Union (CWU) secretary-general Clyde Elder said.
“All the TSTT retail stores in Trinidad are closed and it’s chaos. They’ve not properly informed the public nor the union what is happening,” he told reporters at the bmobile outlet on Independence Square, Port of Spain. CWU vice president Joanne Alexander said a nearby agent for bmobile was not accepting bill payments that day.
Elder feared for the fate of 300 TSTT workers. He said while TSTT had promised to re-deploy staff in suitable and comparable positions, in fact some supervisors have got letters demoting them to the post of administrative assistants. “I hope they wouldn’t interfere with their salaries. Think of the demotivation.”
“And we have some people who have got no letters at all,” he said.
“We have persons now being employed in jobs this union knows nothing about. So they’ve created new jobs and had no discussion with the union as to what this job entails, when was the job created, what’s the grade of these jobs, what’s to happen to persons who refuse these jobs.”
He said staff had got a letter of redeployment, with seven days to sign in response.
However he urged staff to sign no document until the union has checked it out.
Elder said workers had received redeployment letters (among other documents).
“They’re are putting this veiled threat to workers, ‘Take it or you’re on the breadline!’.”
He urged TSTT to rescind the redeployment letters.”
Elder accused TSTT of poor industrial relations. “We are not even in a position where we could agree to disagree with the company because we haven’t been given any information.”
He said only in November had TSTT said the closures would occur by now. Contacted for comment, TSTT communications manager Graeme Suite would only say TSTT is addressing the matters raised by the CWU and will share their response soon. He referred Newsday to a TSTT statement of December 27.
This statement stated that the program of Retail and Digital Transformation was designed to give customers access to all of the same services that the now closed flagship stores provided, including both mobile and residential services, while we continue to have 86 full service bmobile partner locations in operation nationwide.
Additionally, they can pay their bills at the over 1,000 convenient and secure bill payment centres in operation, which include banks, Sure Pay dealers and VIA.
The release urged customers to use an online portal called “bTonline” that is easy to use and mobileTphone friendly. “This puts all of their information at their fingertips.
From getting eTbills to making payments, getting receipts, adding all of their mobile and residential accounts in one place and being able to interact with a customer service representative.”