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BTC Outsourcing Denied

Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) President Bernard Evans said last night that claims of The Bahamas Telecommunications Company’s (BTC) plans to outsource hundreds of jobs are untrue and noted that he had lengthy conversations with BTC executives on Tuesday who have confirmed the same.

However, the BCPOU president told The Bahama Journal that BTC parent company Cable and Wireless (CWC) has outsourced jobs in other parts of the Caribbean and said if the same were to happen in The Bahamas, the union would “absolutely shut BTC down.”

“We’ve had extensive dialogue with Geoff Houston, Phil Bentley, board members, Bradley Roberts and Leon Williams and all that is just rumours and fabrications,” he said.

“There is no truth to that, what has happened in the lime model is they have outsourced the call centres from Barbados to El Salvador, and a year and a half ago they outsourced to Ericsson not only in Jamaica but in a couple of Caribbean countries. We were seeking protection from that kind of activity and so the government has assured us that that would not happen via their board representatives. We know it can’t happen here and certainly if they tried to sneak it on us it’s not going to happen.”

Free National Movement Chairman Darron Cash released a press statement on Tuesday, accusing the Christie Administration of making a deal that would allow CWC to outsource hundreds of BTC jobs in exchange for the employment of Leon Williams.

BTC has since declined to comment on what the company has blasted as only speculations and rumours.

Mr. Williams was recently appointed the special advisor to Cable and Wireless CEO Phil Bentley.

Mr. Evans said the union will have more than enough of the Bahamian people on their side if action has to be taken.

“Given the economic situation in this country, I’ve even had fractions of the former administration that brokered this sale say that this is not something that they agreed to happen and so even they are disappointed so far with what is going on,” he said.

“For Darron Cash to come out and say what he had to say, he had to be concerned about it because it could not have been a part of their mandate and if it was then I think they ought to be the first ones to jump in and say, ‘No, Cable and Wireless this is not something that we signed up for when we sold 46 per cent to you.’”

According to Mr. Cash, Mr. Williams is also proposed to become BTC’s next CEO as a result of the deal.

However, Mr. Evans further squashed such claims.

“Geoff Houston doesn’t know anything about it, Mr. Bentley doesn’t know anything about it, Bradley Roberts doesn’t know anything about it, Leon Williams doesn’t know anything about it so if there is going to be any outsourcing there must be a three to six month window where union and management will sit down to negotiate any possibilities of that happening.”

Labour Minister Shane Gibson has also fired back at Mr. Cash’s allegations, charging that the FNM is responsible for leading the initial spree of layoffs in the country and that the Opposition should rather be concerned about the massive job losses that occurred under the Ingraham administration.

“I am convinced now that something is wrong with Darron Cash’s head, where was he in 1992 when the FNM came to power?” he said.

“There were 2,400 employees at BTC that went down to 600 and all of a sudden now a light went off in his head and he is worried about people losing their jobs.”

He added that the Opposition should have been concerned about job losses when they sent employees from ZNS, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, The Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Customs and Urban Renewal home.

He added that it was under the FNM administration when the Atlantis Resort sent home 900 employees.

While talking to reporters outside of Cabinet yesterday, Minister Gibson declined to confirm whether this deal is true and whether restructuring exercises are underway at BTC.

Chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Bradley Roberts also spoke out against the FNM’s claims and he said BTC job out sourcing was an FNM policy.

“For the record, there is no proposal before BTC’s board to appoint Leon Williams to the post of CEO for BTC,” he said.

“Further, there is no proposal before the board to outsource Bahamian jobs and I am advised that the BTC board chairman communicated that to Bahamas Communications Public Officers Union (BCPOU) President Bernard Evans.”

“Bold and shameless lies of this nature from those who know better only underscore the need for the appointment of a select committee to investigate the circumstances and the terms and conditions of the majority share sale of BTC under the FNM and I call on the government to cause such a committee to be appointed.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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