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BTC workers ‘on edge’

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 23, 2013

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The Bahamas Telecommunications Company’s (BTC) decision to end its arrangement with a group of temporary part-time workers has left some full-time employees worried that they might be next, according to President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) Bernard Evans.

Evans claimed that about 40 workers in this category have been let go, and he claimed full-time workers are on edge.

In a statement, BTC confirmed that it reduced the number of temporary workers, but did not say by how many.

“Consistent with our plans for expanding and refreshing our retail footprint, BTC has been opening new neighborhood stores in partnership with Bahamian entrepreneurs,” the release read.

“To date we have opened 11 such new franchised operations. These rationalization efforts have enabled BTC to redeploy full-time employees to BTC’s flagship stores in New Providence and elsewhere in the country.

“Thus, the number of temporary part-time employees required has been reduced.”

But Evans said the recent layoffs only add to the level of uncertainty at the company in the days after Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) CEO Tony Rice resigned.

“We really don’t know what direction the company is heading in,” Evans said.

“You had David Shaw who penned the agreement for the sale of BTC, he resigned.

“...Then you have Tony Rice who was then the CEO for Cable & Wireless, and after 140 years they moved their headquarters out of London and set up in Miami Beach somewhere.

“And in less than three months after that he resigned. So we really don’t know. There is this shadow, this gloom of uncertainty, we don’t know, we are on edge pretty much.

“BTC used to be a place where you felt as if you would be there as long as you performed. That’s not the case now.”

CWC, the majority owner of BTC, announced last week the appointment of Phil Bentley as its new CEO.

In July, Evans and government-appointed BTC board member Leon Williams expressed fear that more than 100 BTC employees would soon be laid off.

However, BTC officials quickly denied the allegation and said the company was not contemplating mass layoffs.

Evans said morale at the company was at an all time low. He said that he was very disappointed that the government has yet to regain the majority shares in BTC.

CWC purchased 51 percent of BTC in 2011 amid widespread controversy.

The Christie administration has pledged to regain majority control of the company.

Prime Minister Perry Christie appointed a negotiating team last year led by businessman Franklyn Wilson with plans to do just that.

Christie said on Thursday Rice’s resignation might stop negotiations to obtain the two percent.

Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said Christie should move on and let go of his promise to regain majority shares in BTC.

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