(Trinidad Guardian) At the end of their restructuring process, the Telecommunications Service of T&T (TSTT) intends to send home 700 employees said Ronald Walcott, TSTT’s CEO.
Next on the chopping block is non-unionised employees and members of management, he said in a previous statement.
“This is a phase of a process of transformation. We started this exercise in 2016. When I took over in 2014 I indicated to everyone at that point in time that we have some fundamental challenges because we are constructed in a legacy way and the telecommunication industry is changing rapidly. If we do not transform ourselves we will become irrelevant, insolvent and continue to be a source of concern. That was the early message,” he said.
Walcott spoke with CNC3 reporter Judy Kanhai on Friday at TSTT’s House, Port-of-Spain.
On Thursday, 503 TSTT employees were served letters of termination.
He said in 2016 they developed a five-year plan that said that they would evolve their technology, look for new lines of revenue, improve service delivery and employee cost had to be adjusted.
“Our employee cost is 30 per cent of revenue, twice the industry standard sometimes more than that and our efficiency is half of the industry standard. This is this phase of a greater strategic plan that was a $4 billion undertaking that we started in 2015.”
He said when he started in TSTT 12 years ago, employee cost was one of the first conversations he had.
When asked why it took so long to deal with high employee costs, he said systems have to be put in place to deal with it.
“If you are going to move toward digital transformation, you have to put the automation in place. What will happen is if you remove people but still have manual processes, then you will still need someone to do the processes. Our customers must always be first.”
Before sending home the 503 employees on Thursday they had roughly 2,000 employees on staff.
“We started in 2013 with 2,500. We had a voluntary separation exercise in 2014, then down to 2,000. We want to get to where we should be at around 1,300 employees.”
He also spoke about why they have posted financial losses in recent times.
“One of the issues we had with the first six months of 2018 just concluded is there is a new financial reporting standard RFS 9 and this has a specific way in which you have to treat with debt. We have some existing Government debt that we had to impair which we would not have normally done in the normal course of business. Outside of that, the challenge that we have is employee cost.”
He said people using social media has reduced the traditional revenue they used to get from overseas calls and other traditional ways of communication.
On the entertainment side, he said whereas in the past people had cable tv now they use Netflix and other latest trends.
“This is just the reality. We saw where everything is driven by broadband. We are removing copper and replacing it with the wireless network and will go to 5G. Our vision is every household in T&T will have broadband and this will bring revenue.”
He added: “Our employee cost and getting that in line will take us out of the red immediately.”