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Fears of future layoffs at BTC as unions seek new agreements

Fears are running high at Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) that layoffs could come in the new year as the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union (BCPMU) fight to negotiate new industrial agreements with the telecommunications company.

President of the BCPOU Bernard Evans said the company has not made an official statement about layoffs as yet, but BTC employees who attended a union meeting Tuesday night, and who spoke to Guardian Business under condition of anonymity, claimed layoffs were mentioned in the meeting and quoted a figure of between 70 and 100 employees. That estimate not be confirmed up to press time.

BTC has been undergoing myriad changes recently, hiring new senior managers and reportedly moving to change the compensation structure in some of its departments.

Evans explained that BTC promised to come to the unions with proposals for new industrial agreements before the end of this week.

The company has been under immense pressure since new mobile company Aliv entered the market one year ago. The company has been working diligently to roll out products it hopes the market will find attractive. Meanwhile, Aliv continues to boast about thousands of numbers ported from BTC’s network.

Though there are concerns that the company’s move to stay competitive could mean layoffs in the future, Evans said government still has to sign off on those layoffs if they are to occur.

He said he hopes the government will remain vigilant and put a safety net in place if it does allow BTC to go through with any layoffs.

Evans added that he is concerned any lay offs carried out by the company will impact the economy.

“This does not bode well for the government or the people of The Bahamas,” he said.

He is also concerned about the growing oligarchy in the region created by Liberty Global, the company that runs BTC, and Digicel.

“We are headed in the wrong direction,” Evans warned.

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