Saturday 20 July, 2019

TSTT denies security used force on union leader

The Telecommunications Service of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) has disputed the account of the President of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) following an alleged altercation with security guards.

Union leader Clyde Elder was taken away in an ambulance and treated at the Port of Spain General Hospital for soft tissue damage following the incident which occurred at TSTT’s Nelson Exchange on Wednesday morning.

In disputing his account of the incident as it unfolded, the company in a statement on Wednesday evening insisted that absolutely no force was used to escort him out of the building.

TSTT made it clear that it views Elder’s actions as a smokescreen, saying that the incident appeared to be “a deliberate attempt by the CWU to thwart any efforts by the Company to ensure that the organisational transformation is seamless”. 

Giving its account of what transpired, TSTT said the Union leader appeared at Nelson Exchange to convene an unauthorised meeting with employees.

The company said its security management subsequently requested without force that the he discontinue the meeting at which time, Elder and his supporters became extremely disruptive and threatened the safety of all employees. 

TSTT maintains it was not advised of any scheduled CWU meeting at Nelson Exchange or any other TSTT location.

The company defended its actions, referencing Section 19.4 of the Collective Agreement between TSTT and CWU: 

“Any identified official of the Union may enter the Company's premises during working hours to investigate employee/s complaints and work conditions provided that before entering prior notification is made by the Secretary-General of the Union or his designated representative.”

The company said the Union’s executives are fully aware of this clause.

Further, TSTT said this was emphasised in a letter sent to the CWU on October 17, 2018, where the CWU was reminded of the following: 

“Moreover, the Company wishes to remind your Union of the established practice/procedure (which has been upheld by the past executives of the CWU), whereby the Union gives the Company seventy-two (72) hours’ notice of any planned Union spot meeting, so as to afford an opportunity for the consultation with the impacted line and security management, prior to the granting of the union’s request for such meetings.”

TSTT ended by saying it was a “sensitive time” at the company, adding that the CWU will see this as “an opportunity to lead with respect, restraint and responsibility for the benefit of all employees and the success of the organisation which the CWU claims it values”.   

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