CWU to discuss restructuring with TSTT Tuesday

Clyde Elder, general secretary of the CWU speaks during a news conference at the union's headquarters at Henry Street, Port of Spain on Monday. - ROGER JACOB
Clyde Elder, general secretary of the CWU speaks during a news conference at the union's headquarters at Henry Street, Port of Spain on Monday. - ROGER JACOB

Secretary general of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Clyde Elder has said the union met with Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales on December 6, and offered ideas to save TSTT.

At a news conference on Monday, Elder said the union will be meeting with TSTT on Tuesday to discuss the planned restructuring of the company.

In a media release on January 17, TSTT said it invited trade unions representing its workers to a meeting to discuss a restructuring exercise.

TSTT said, among other things, the restructuring became necessary as the company had a $453 million decrease in revenue in the last fiscal year.

It blamed its losses on the covid19 pandemic and competition from new technologies, and suggested these negative effects would persist into the future.

Elder said the union, at the meeting with Gonzales, offered ideas on how TSTT could be saved.

The proposal, which was shared with the media, said TSTT should embrace the “new normal” and focus on data services, promote data plans, and more cloud-based services.

The document said, “There must be a conversation with the union in how we both can mutually agree to take the company to a different financial, technological and service-oriented, and fulfilled company.”

It also suggested TSTT use the technology and transform Tobago into a “smart island” to give the tourist-centred island the ability to offer “all smart services” to boost data and generate profitability, and encourage cloud services to the THA.

Elder said Gonzales liked the proposal and agreed to meet with the union again before Christmas, but never did.

He said, “We find it strange that as minister you could say you don’t know about this restructuring exercise.

“No company that is run by the State, that has a board appointed by the government, could engage in a restructuring exercise that has the potential for massive job losses and the government doesn’t know about it.”

He said the union also delivered a letter to the Prime Minster on Friday calling for his intervention.

Elder said while he is not encouraging a riot, the situation is “ripe” for a revolution.

He said the union has been calling for a forensic audit into the company since American singer Beyonce performed in Trinidad in 2010.

Elder said he did not consider Tuesday’s meeting a consultation.

“We have asked the company to give us the information they have before the meeting tomorrow and they said no. They are coming to dictate to us. That is not a consultation. They are simply informing us what they have decided.”

He said while the union is unaware of what will take place at the meeting, they are sure workers will be retrenched.

“We at the CWU know that when we speak about restructuring, you’re really speaking about sending home workers.”


"CWU to discuss restructuring with TSTT Tuesday"

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