GTT is committing transgressions in relation to its labour force

Dear Editor,

GTT creates the impression in the public domain that it upholds, respects and adheres to the labour laws, principles, conventions and practices that govern all. This is not the case. Rather, the company continues to ignore the core fabric of industrial relations practices.

The Guyana Postal & Telecommunication Workers’ Union (GPTWU) was invited by the company’s Human Resources Manager (HRM) to a meeting on April 12th, 2016 to discuss- transportation. At that meeting, it was stated by the Director of Finance, that effective May 1, 2016, the company would only be providing transportation for its employees who commence  work before 07:30hrs (7.30am) and those after 18:30 hours (6.30pm), daily.

The union being aware of the devastating impact such a move would have on its membership who travel from as far as Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara and La Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara to Georgetown on a daily basis to work outlined the following:-

  1. That the notice period of approximately two weeks was too short, since the affected employees would need more time to prepare themselves for the early morning hassle through the use of public transportation.
  2. Given the custom and practice of being transported to work, especially in respect of those employees who have been working with the company for decades on a shift system, the drastic change could result in additional frustration and low morale.
  3. Management must cushion the cost of transportation for the affected employees, since in some instances they will have to find an additional $10,000.00 dollars on a monthly basis to cater for this heartless move by the company. Moreso, there was no meaningful engagement with the union.

The meeting concluded with the understanding that the union’s suggestions would be taken into consideration by management. Shockingly, within less than twenty-four hours after that the HRM informed the union that management has decided to proceed with its decision as outlined at the meeting.

1.The union wrote the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Justin Nedd requesting a meeting and at the same time, asked that the decision to withdraw transportation from the employees be put on hold, so as to enable the parties to arrive at an agreed position. To date, he has not responded.

The employees of the company view the action taken by the company as very uncaring and draconian. This latest move has added to their numerous discomforts and they are further demoralised.

The union sees management’s action as a further erosion of trust between the parties. Amidst all of this, management continues to pay scant regards to its employees’ health and safety concerns.

Issues such as:

  1. Technicians climbing GPL and GTT poles to fix telephone faults without any assistance which is in clear contravention of the Occupational Safety & Health Act.

I’m sure that the public can recall that one of GTT’s technicians, Mr Vijai Gaznabbie was working alone on November 3, 2016, when he fell to his death. It was a public-spirited citizen who rendered assistance by taking him to the hospital.

  1. GTT continues its foot dragging as it relates to the provision of more durable safety gear for its employees.
  2. The company has been increasing the workload of technicians, which makes their tasks very stressful and tiresome.
  3. The ‘One Man Team,’ where a technician has to drive, fetch the ladder, climb the poles, with no one to foot the ladder, run drop-wires across the streets and be the lookout security for the items stored in the vehicle continues to permeate the working environment within the company.
  4. The technicians have been executing duties as drivers and the company is refusing to honour its obligation to pay them for their labour.

This state of affairs is resulting in numerous health issues.

The public needs to be made aware of the numerous transgressions being committed by GTT, the telephone giant, with no regard for its labour force. GPTWU is not prepared to allow these transgressions by GTT to continue indefinitely, and will be bringing to the fore all the ills that exist.

Violations of workers’ rights by the company must stop and they should stop now.

Yours faithfully,

Harold Shepherd

President

GPTWU

 

Editor’s note

We are sending a copy of this letter to Ms Allison Parker, the PRO of GTT for any comment she might wish to make.

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