The trinidad Guardian / The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is calling on government to intervene in the situation in which the Telecommunication Services of T&T (TSTT) is getting set to close nine retail stores which it believes will lead to the retrenchment of over 300 employees.
During a press conference at the CWU Hall, Port-of-Spain yesterday, CWU President Clyde Elder accused senior officials at TSTT of brokering lucrative deals which he claimed, carried with it a hidden purpose aimed at benefitting only company executives.
Along with the claims of retrenchment, Elder raised several issues including the timely payment of bills, resolution of problems and customer confidentiality.
Urging Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte and Finance Minister Colm Imbert to uphold the current administration’s mantra to attack corruption on all fronts, Elder said, “This decision to close these public offices will affect not only the employees, but it is going to affect the general public as to what happens to their service.”
During a meeting on October 5 with TSTT’s Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Carol David, Elder said confirmation was given regarding the closure of the public offices that now operate.
He said, “We were further told that TSTT would then outsource the services provided by these public offices to dealers and agents who have franchises with TSTT.”
Elder argued the decision to close the public offices would not only affect the employees but the general public as well.
He said, “It means the public no longer has the option of going into a TSTT outlet to transact business.”
“It also means that the confidentiality that TSTT is bound to because of its obligations to TATT under the Telecoms Act, that these agents and these contractors don’t have that obligation to keep your information confidential.”
Elder said customers could encounter problems regarding bill payments as their accounts may not be credited until hours and even days afterwards.
He added, “You will now have to go through an intermediary to resolve any issues that arise.”
Elder also raised the issue in which a rival company had ended up before the court as they tried to recoup monies paid to them via a private dealer.
Claiming the move would affect over 300 employees and directly impact 500 jobs, Elder challenged senior officials to disclose whether or not they shared a relationship with any of the dealers/agents set to benefit from the new arrangement.
He said they were not trusting of claims by the company that workers will be redeployed.
Elder said unconfirmed reports claimed the entire hand-off would be completed by January next year.
In a release late yesterday, TSTT denied allegations made by the CWU that any workers would lose their jobs.
“As a good corporate citizen, TSTT has made it clear to all stakeholders that it is not retrenching anyone. The company’s strategy is to find more fulfilling, comparable, suitable employment for all employees who work at the bmobile retail stores. Any information contrary to this is simple inaccurate.”
Justifying the store closures, TSTT said that as part of their analysis, “it has been established that more than 70% of the transaction activities at its bmobile Retail Stores are “Bill Related”.”
The release added: “The company therefore determined that as the technology leader in Trinidad and Tobago, it had to enhance the customer’s experience. The next phase of TSTT’s Digital Transformation includes the use of its enhanced online portal, interconnected kiosks and an expanded bill payment network including the banks, “Sure Pay” and its dealer network. During this phase the company has also taken a decision to close nine of its Retail stores as the previously mentioned improvements can more efficiently serve customers.”