Monday 20 November, 2017

CWU sees corruption in TSTT's decision to franchise retail stores

The decision of the Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) to franchise all ten of its retail stores is being described as an act of corruption.

Clyde Elder, newly elected Secretary General of The Communications Workers Union CWU), made the accusation as he detailed TSTT’s plans to close all of its current retail stores before the end of the year.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Elder said in a meeting with Carol David, Vice President of Retail Stores, they were informed that TSTT is closing all of its public stores.

He said they described it as a retail stores transformation.

He said TSTT intends to franchise the stores to agents and dealers.

“It means that the public no longer has the option of going to a TSTT outlet to transact business. It means the confidentiality TSTT is bound to under the Telecommunications Authority and the Telecoms Act, that these agents and these contractors do not have that obligation to keep information confidential. It also means for the public going into TSTT now to pay bills that their accounts won’t be credited until hours or days after. You can’t interface directly with TSTT to get any issue resolved, you will now have to go through an intermediary,” he said.

Elder said it is clear that the deal will only benefit certain members of the community including certain members of TSTT.

“Does the CEO know of any other manager or managers who have had relationships with these agencies and stand to benefit in this decision?” he asked, questioning CEO Ronald Walcott's  relationship with a specific dealer whose name he called.

He also questioned if the resignation of former Chairman Emile Elias was related to this decision.

“Does this decision have anything to do with the resignation of Mr Elias because it is passing strange that on heels of his resignation that the Union is informed that the company is closing down all of its public offices. Who stands to benefit?

Asked about the retrenchment of staff, Elder said they were told that no permanent workers would be sent home but if anyone refuses to be redeployed they would be retrenched.

He said closing the stores will affect over 300 employees and 500 jobs.

He also questioned if workers from Massy Communication would be used to put workers’ jobs at risk.

Elder revealed that no correspondence from TSTT has mentioned an effective date for this decision but they heard via the grapevine that TSTT intends to close all stores by November 30 with handovers completed by January. 

Elder is calling on Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte to investigate the arrangements for the new structure.

He said the Union will be meeting with workers of the public offices and they intend to fight this decision.

Efforts to contact TSTT"s Communication Manager Graeme Suite were not successful.