Nassau – The Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) and the Bahamas Communications Public Managers Union (BCPMU) met with the Leader of the Opposition, The Hon. Philip “Brave” Davis on Monday, November 19, 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to review the concerns of the Trade Unions in light of the impending down-sizing at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company, Ltd. (BTC). The BCPOU and BCPMU were represented by their presidents, Mr. Dino Rolle and Mr. Ricardo Thompson.
Following the meeting, Mr. Dino Rolle, President of the BCPOU expressed his appreciation to the Hon. Philip “Brave” Davis and thanked him for his patience and empathy during the session. He expressed: “BTC is a national treasure for the Bahamas and in the face of globalization, we must ensure that we work collectively to preserve the legacy of BTC while strengthening the local economy”. He also highlighted that there has to be more inclusive and creative ways for companies to remain profitable while meeting its corporative objectives.
He explained that in 1999, when BTC was still under Bahamian control, during its first Voluntary Separation Program (VSEP), instead of canceling jobs for Bahamians, opportunities were created. A number of contracts were awarded to local Bahamian companies and VSEP staff members also formed companies and successfully bid and won proposals to provide BTC with services. It was a ‘win-win’ for all involved. BTC was able to minimize staff costs and many former employees became entrepreneurs. “This is the type of partnership and creativity that we are encouraging this current group of Executives to explore,” stated Mr. Rolle. He went on to state: “We need to act and operate in the best interest of this country and its people. We simply can’t allow these big businesses to continue to send people on the employment lines while they ship Bahamian jobs overseas”. This sentiment was stressed during his meeting with The Hon. Phillip “Brave” Davis.
“This group of BTC executives have not exhausted every avenue to make this company profitable in the face of competition”, stated Mr. Rolle. “Mobile competition is not new, and BTC has other lines of business with potential for growth. Too little effort has been placed on building BTC’s position as a quad-play provider, this is where opportunity exists. To depend on our mobile revenues alone in these changing times is not a wise business approach.”
Mr. Ricardo Thompson, President of the BCPMU also took part in the meeting. He said: “This is an important step for the BCPMU and BCPOU. The support and ear of The Hon. Phillip “Brave” Davis is encouraging.” He went on to state: “We need the support of all facets of government as we’re working feverishly to preserve the jobs of our members.” He also noted that he was discouraged by the recent comments made by the BTC CEO who stated that BTC was targeting only, “non-productive” staff. He explained: “BTC has not had a functioning performance management system for over two years. So, I’m curious as to how the CEO is establishing a ‘baseline’ to measure and determine who are the productive employees. There is no objective metric in the company for doing so. This statement by the BTC CEO underscores our concerns about the subjectivity and victimization that our members endure daily at this ‘new’ BTC.”
Both Union Presidents stated that they remain vigilant in their pursuits and they will continue to meet with the relevant government stakeholders to advance their cause. “We have a meeting with the BTC Board this week, and we are working to secure a meeting with the Minister of Labor”, advised Mr. Rolle.
The BCPOU and the BCPMU are the sole bargaining units for line-staff and managers, respectively at BTC.