As part of restructuring, GTT says it will be retrenching approximately 120 persons within the next 12 months, which the Postal and Telecommuni-cations Workers Union (PTWU) says is unlawful since they were not informed of the company’s actions.
A press release from the telecommunications company yesterday said the restructuring of the company’s operations is aimed at aligning the company with the new environment in which it provides services. GTT expects that about 120 positions would be made redundant over the next 12 months. This is equivalent to about 17% of its workforce.
The statement said that so far, under the restructuring plans, six employees, drawn from multiple departments, have been separated from the company. “All employees affected by the restructuring are receiving their full benefits and severance,” the statement added, while saying that the company is providing opportunities for the employees to receive training to “prepare them for their new endeavors.”
While there was no meeting with the employees to inform them of the changes, the statement said that the staff were all informed by an internal memorandum yesterday where the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Justin Nedd said, “We are on the verge of really creating a company that is built for the future and we must position ourselves to ensure that everyone understands his or her role and is driven in the same direction.”
It said he stressed that Talent Management is one of the company’s priorities for the year as it wants to ensure that the “right employees are in the right roles.”
“Through improving Talent Management GTT expects to provide more training for employees, better tools and the leadership that would lead to improved productivity. The goal of Talent Management is to enable GTT to delight its customers and to grow revenue,” the statement noted, while pointing out that Customer Care is another one of the company’s top priorities and through the restructuring GTT expects to be able to meet and exceed customers’ expectations.
However, Harold Shepherd, President of the PTWU, said that the union strongly objects to the company’s decision to sever the employees without following the collective labour agreement that they would have signed on to.
Explaining that prior to Stabroek News informing it of GTT’s announcement, the Union was not aware of the company’s move, he said, “We will notify the company about this information that you are now sharing with us and let them know that the union strongly objects.”
While the company has over 700 employees, Shepherd related that the PTWU represents approximately 220 of them, and even if the workers that were released and those who are going to be released, are not represented by a union, the company has to notify the Ministry of Social Protection’s Department of Labour of their intention, one month in advance, along with whichever union is on board.
“If there is a union within the establishment they must be informed and notified at least a month in advance, at the same time with the Ministry and obviously the union would want to have engagements to see what they can to do mitigate the decision of the company in terms of the number of persons being laid off,” he said, while emphasizing that the Union was not informed of the company’s decision in the allotted time.
Shepherd also said it was unethical for the company to treat their employees in such a manner, some of whom might be long-serving workers. “How can you sever their service without offering any notice for them to plan? Who knows if they have mortgages and other finances to pay and obviously that can be very devastating, not only to those that have been severed but also to the ones remaining in the company,” he said.
Additionally, he said the actions of the company will result in a demotivated workforce which can have adverse effects on the company’s performance. “Let’s say someone is working with an employer and he’s sending home six of their colleagues and he’s telling you that within the next 12 months he will be sending home 114 more. How would you feel? You’d feel like there’s no future for you there, because you’re not sure if you’re going to be among those 120 either,” Shepherd reasoned, while noting that even though the company might have had good intentions with respect to moving forward it was not the best way of executing it.
While the company stated that workers will become “redundant” as a result of the restructuring, Shepherd said that essentially they were dismissing their workers since their actions did not run parallel to the Labour Laws. “I see it as dismissal, not redundant workers. When you’re making a person redundant there are certain guidelines you must follow, and if you breached those guidelines then you’ve essentially dismissed those employees,” he said.
He related that by next week the Union will formally write to the company seeking an explanation.
The statement from the company also said that their third priority for 2017 is completing the negotiations with the Government on a mutually beneficial agreement in the context of the liberalization of the telecommunications sector. It said the liberalization will allow GTT, for the first time, the opportunity to operate on a playing field that is level.
“This means that for the first time it is likely that competitors in the same sector pay the same taxes and fees as GTT has over the last 26 years,” the statement added, while quoting Nedd as saying, “At the end, we will come out stronger as we shift from a technical centric organization to an organization that is focused on satisfying the customers’ needs and, eventually consistently delighting our customers.” (Dhanash Ramroop)