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posted 13 Oct 2018, 21:30 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 13 Oct 2018, 21:42 ]
CWU Secretary General, Clyde Elder
The employers are wasting no time ramping up the attack as they go the offensive against organised labour in their effort to bolster their social power at the expense of working people and the poor.

Because they perceive that the trade union movement is at its weakest since the nineteen thirties, they, led by the State, have abandoned the policy of bit by bit and are going for the whole hog.

Not content with the vicious, sustained assault on the Oilfields Workers Trade Union, they have broadened their focus to include the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the workers of TSTT. The union of course has read the play and is fighting back.

The CWU has filed an Industrial Relations Offence (IRO) against TSTT and has sought and won injunctive relief from the Industrial Court pending the determination of the IRO which is to be heard on November 28th. What is the IRO all about?

It had become common knowledge that TSTT wants to restructure itself into four:

a ) Amplia, which will handle all residential fibre customers and revenue collection;

b) A company to provide wireless and mobile services;

c) A company to provide data and security services;

d) A company to provide shared services such as human resources, industrial relations, marketing, legal and finance;

e) TSTT to remain as the parent/holding company of the other companies.

TSTT CEO Ronald Walcott
Well, on September 25th 2018, Ronald Walcott, CEO of TSTT, issued an email to all TSTT workers reminding them that on “On July 31st, 2017, TSTT successfully completed the acquisition of 100% shareholding of Massy Communications Ltd (MCL), now formally known as Amplia Communications Ltd (Amplia).” This acquisition cost TSTT, a state-owned company over $215 million.

The company argued that Massey communication had access to 34,000 homes of which 6,000 were actual customers. Walcott claimed that TSTT’s strategic plan called for the company “to pass 200,000 homes with fiber by 2019.”

Walcott argued that TSTT’s, fiber business represents less than 1% of revenue and less than 1% of customers, but the fiber roll out was a great growth potential. He goes on to state “from an operational efficiency and strategic perspective, we must harmonize our Residential Fiber Operations to best serve our customers. Therefore, effective 15th October 2018, all residential fiber operations will be effected through Amplia.”

Now, Amplia is a wholly owned subsidiary of TSTT, but it is a standalone company with its own board of directors and its separate workforce. Amplia’s Board includes TSTT chairman, Robert Mayers (these names keep popping up), TSTT CEO Walcott and Gerry Brooks, former CEO of the MCAL conglomerate and now Chairman of the Board of state-owned National Gas Company; Chairman of the National Energy Corporation; TTNGL; LABIDCO; Phoenix Park Processors and others.

Amplia’s workforce is not unionised and enjoy inferior wages and working conditions to TSTT workers.

The rollout of the fiber platforms has already been done by TSTT workers and the relatively simple task of making residential connections going forward is to be done by Amplia. The unasked question is what is to be the fate of the TSTT workers? Is it not logical to conclude that a massive retrenchment exercise is being prepared for the unionised workers of TSTT, both Junior and Senior Staff?

The CWU, the recognised majority union for both junior and senior staff, has taken in front and is seeking to force the company to hold discussions with it, thus the filing of the Industrial Relations Offence.

To that effect the union has argued that the proposal that “for all residential fibre operations to be performed by Amplia, was in violation of the Collective Agreement between TSTT and the Union, namely Article 12 of the Junior and Senior Staff Collective Agreement, which forbids the contracting out of work normally performed by the Company’s employees.” As stated in the affidavit submitted to the industrial court by CWU Secretary General Clyde Elder.

The class war is intensifying and all organised workers in the public sector seem to be at risk. Who shall be next – WASA workers; T&TEC workers, after all they have to clear the way before they raise rates and nobody ent riot yet?
Gerry Kangalee,
13 Oct 2018, 21:30