CWU: Some workers barred from TSTT despite court order

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Communications Workers Union (CWU) Clyde Elder

COMMUNICATION Workers Union (CWU) head Clyde Elder said on Wednesday that some workers have told him they have been barred from entry to the premises of TSTT.

This was in spite of the union’s getting an Industrial Court injunction on Tuesday freezing the company’s serving of retrenchment letters to 468 workers earlier.

He told Newsday, “Some workers have reported they were not allowed onto the compound, in violation of the order. That is something we have to treat with right now. We’ll seek guidance and advice on that.”

Asked if the CWU had any counterproposals to TSTT’s move to retrench, Elder replied that the union had put several on the table, but the company simply didn’t seem interested in engaging.

“Why not let people who want to leave, leave? You don’t even have to give them the enhanced retrenchment package, but just the usual retrenchment package.”

Likewise he said TSTT could facilitate the exit of people who were close to retirement. However, he said whatever proposals the CWU had put forward, TSTT had refused.

He alleged that TSTT was carrying out an alleged government agenda “to decimate TSTT, to kill the union and promote Amplia, without any unionised workforce.”

Newsday asked what was the mood among workers.

Elder replied TSTT had found itself in a serious problem on Wednesday morning. He said when TSTT found some of its lines down and in need of repair, it had asked some of the same workers set for retrenchment to fix them.

“But workers are so demoralised that nobody wants to report for work after today.”

He said the court hearing was set for June 14.

“The court will determine for itself whether TSTT’s actions (serving retrenchment letters) were in line with the Retrenchment and Severance of Benefits Act. If the court finds there was no offence by TSTT, the matter will be dismissed. But if the matter has merit, I expect the court to uphold the law and TSTT to follow suit.”

On Tuesday, Elder had told Newsday TSTT had sent retrenchment notices to 376 staff in the bargaining unit, about 28 security guards represented by the Estate Police Association, plus a number of managers and professionals.

TSTT said 468 staff in all were to be retrenched, including 403 employees (senior, junior and security staff) who were to be sent home as of Wednesday and be paid in lieu of 45 days’ notice. Newsday asked TSTT CEO Lisa Agard for the company’s response to the injunction, but up to publication time had not received a reply.