T&T union warns ANSA McAl over layoffs

(Trinidad Express) The Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) has issued a warning to companies to cease retrenching workers or face a boycott.

BIGWU president Vincent Cabrera gave the warning during a news conference at the union’s Barataria headquarters last week. Cabrera targeted the ANSA McAL group of companies, which he said has issued a number of retrenchment notices to employees of Guardian Media Ltd (GML).

GML is a subsidiary of ANSA McAL which publishes the Guardian newspaper and operates TV station CNC3 as well as a number of radio stations.

He said workers were being told that the company was losing money which was the reason for retrenchment. GML’s unaudited financial results, released on Thursday, reported a loss for the first half of 2017, compared with a profit for the same period in 2016. (See story below)

But Cabrera said this was not a true reflection of the company’s finances.

He said the company had presented “manipulated figures” to the union to “dupe us into believing that the print section of GML had been losing money”.

“For the period 2011 to 2015 GML recorded profit before tax ranging from $44 million to $48 million,” he said.

“ANSA McAL recorded profits for the same period ranging from $904 million to $1.1 billion.

Now all of a sudden they gone in the red? How does such an enterprise with billions of profits suddenly find itself in the red?”

He claimed the retrenchment was due to the introduction of new technology and said workers were being forced to take early retirement or be sent home.

Some 49 retrenchment notices were sent out in all, he said.

Cabrera said he was in full support of the call by Joint Trade Union Movement leader Ancel Roget for a boycott of certain businesses owned by the “one per cent” and that the ANSA McAL Group of Companies “are prime candidates”.

Cabrera unveiled a chart showing all the companies under ANSA McAL which would be subject to a boycott.

Responding to Cabrera’s statements, GML’s head of news, Shelly Dass, said, “As a publicly traded company, our financial statements are published every quarter and are independently audited on an annual basis in accordance with international accounting standards.

We have nothing to hide and we stand by our financial statements. As a result, GML totally rejects Mr Cabrera’s inaccurate allegations.

Furthermore, we will not engage in conducting negotiations through the media.”

Dass denied that 49 retrenchment notices had been sent out, noting that, in 2016, 16 workers were retrenched after extensive consultations, but that the 2017 consultation process had not been completed.


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