CWU rejects TSTT’s 1 percent
By Miranda La Rose Saturday, August 11 2012
The Communications Workers Union (CWU) has rejected outright the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago’s offer of a one percent increase in wages and salaries for the period 2008 to 2010.
During yesterday’s picketing outside TSTT’s office, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, CWU president General Joseph Remy told reporters the union will heighten its protest action because TSTT refused to increase its offer even though the union lowered its demands.
At yesterday’s meeting with TSTT, Remy said, the CWU requested that TSTT bring to the bargaining table financial information relevant to the company’s operations including what is being paid to contractors, advertising and employment agencies in the spirit of free and fair collective bargaining and transparency.
Remy said the CWU reduced its proposal from 20 percent for junior employees to 17 percent, and its proposed increase for senior staff from 24 percent to 19 percent. The negotiations, he said, have been ongoing with TSTT over the past six weeks.
The CWU believed that because of the past period being negotiated a speedy resolution to the salaries issue could have been achieved easily, but TSTT, he said, “has other ideas.”
According to Remy, after TSTT consolidated the wrong Cost of Living Allowances (COLA), the company went ahead last year and reduced the COLA for employees by over $200 in some instances.
“They reduced it from $570 to $380 in some instances. So in effect,” he said, “they’re telling workers that they must get a wage cut over the three-year period.”
Condemning the COLA cut and one percent increase, he said, “we will engage in rigorous intense protest action until the company moves from that position.”
It was ironic, he said, that in an environment where the Water And Sewerage Authority, the Housing Development Corporation and other companies were resolving their negotiations around nine, ten, 11, 12, and 13 percent, TSTT, a profitable state enterprise that recorded some $600 million in profits after tax for the same period under negotiations was offering its employees one percent. “What is even worse,” he said, was that TSTT “just approved a bonus payment for executives and managers of over $70 million in one year.”
TSTT was also sponsoring cultural and sporting icons, he said, to the tune of millions of dollars.
“They are sponsoring Olympic athletes. We are happy for that. We are grateful for that. We are thankful for that. We are proud of them athletes,” he said, “TSTT has to also be proud of their employees.”
Calling on the board of directors, the line minister, and the acting Chief Executive Officer to intervene in moving forward, Remy said the CWU believes that “at a time when the company should be organising itself to deal with the competitive environment, we ought not to engaging in this kind of action.”
Asked what was the company’s explanation for the one percent offer, Remy said, “We asked what was the rationale for a one percent increase, and the team that came to negotiate had no answer whatsoever.”
There was no senior executive present at the negotiation which was led by the TSTT Industrial Relations Manager. With TSTT’s negotiating team unable to make decisions at the bargaining table, he said that was only lengthening the negotiation process. The two parties are due to meet again on August 23.