…to protect members’ interests
Following the announcement that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company will be laying off about 120 of its employees over the next 12 months, the Guyana Postal and Telecommunication Workers’ Union (GPTWU) – which
represents the majority of the workers – has committed to take ‘rigid’ action to protect the interests of its members.
This assertion was made by General Secretary of the Union, Eslyn Harris, who did not go into detail as to what specific action the Union will take in light of the pronouncement by the company.
Harris was at the time addressing members of the GPTWU yesterday at a meeting held at the union’s East Street Headquarters. Union president Harold Shepherd was also present.
According to the General-Secretary, the excuse given by the company to ‘reorganise’ operations would take workers along a certain path. However, she recalled that some time last year there was talk about ‘re-designation,’ starting with employees of the call centre.
Harris said that reorganisation encompasses a holistic approach. According to her, the company “cannot reorganise the floor employees and not the management”. Additionally, she said that the company went about informing employees of the move in the wrong way, violating common industrial relations protocol. The company had apparently sent out an email to all its employees informing them of the changes to take place.
According to Shepherd, the union learnt of GT&T’s move through the media last Wednesday. The union president said that the announcement can impact any of the over 700 workers which the company employs.
He told those in attendance that the union has a role to play to represent the interest of its members. According to Shepherd, the union understands the level of frustration and uncertainty being felt by employees.
Shepherd said that although the company has announced it wishes to part ways with 120 workers, the possibility exists that the company may want to go beyond that number, which is another cause for concern.
The company had justified the move by saying that positions are becoming redundant. According to Shepherd, employees do not become redundant, rather the positions become redundant. Thus far, six employees have been laid off.
According to one member, one of the six individuals worked in a number of departments. He suggested that the company could have simply re-assigned the individual instead of laying him off.
He said that the union is of the strong opinion that GT&T is trying to create positions to place contract employees. Under this agreement the company will not have overhead costs nor would its workers need to be placed in pension schemes.
Shepherd assured his members that the union will take appropriate action and seek the necessary guidance as they move forward to ensure that the telecommunication company “pays for its actions”.
Speaking with Kaieteur News, the Union boss said that the move by the company will have a negative impact on the employees, particularly for whom GT&T predicts will remain.
“We believe the action by GT&T against its long-serving employees will not be in the best interest of the company, and also, it actually impacts negatively on the workforce generally, even those they envisage to remain. It will impact at least their future, because obviously you would not want to work with a company that you have no security of tenure, because how can you plan your life.”
Further, Shepherd said that the move will affect the service offered to the general public.
“GT&T customers have over the years complained about the quality of service they are receiving as it relates to the time taken to rectify problems. It shows clearly that the company is understaffed and these are experienced people with the necessary skills to get the job done. They have the competency.”
In the statement issued by GT&T on the issue, Chief Executive Officer Justin Nedd had said that the company is on the verge of creating an entity built for the future and therefore needs to position itself to ensure that everyone understands their role and is driven in the same direction.
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