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120 TSTT employees stage midday protest

By Michelle Loubon

Non-payment of their January salaries and the company’s refusal to use the correct cost of living allowance (COLA) formula are two of the main grouses affecting about 2,200 employees of Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT).

 Led by  John Julien,  secretary general of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), about 120 bargaining unit staff staged a midday protest yesterday outside TSTT’s main complex at Henry and Duke Streets, Port of Spain.

 In the background, the placards read “No Pay No Work” and “Time To Make All COLA Agreements”.

 Julien said he was hoping TSTT would settle the outstanding issues before the matter comes up for conciliation in the Industrial Court on February 5.  

On the issue of non-payment of salaries, Julien said: “Since last week, no worker from the bargaining unit has been paid for work for January. No money went to the bank. People cannot pay their mortgages. It means they will have to pay interest.  We plan to picket Scotiabank and then discuss it. TSTT is culpable. TSTT uploaded electronically  to Scotia. Scotia then sends the money to the other banks like RBC, Republic Bank and First Citizens Bank.”

Julien claimed the CEO and management are not concerned because they are paid externally, adding that they were paid hefty bonuses up till last year. 

 “They did nothing. Nothing was put in place for the workers who did not get their salaries in January. This is a bad time and a bad day for it to happen. You can’t transact business in the bank on weekends,” said Julien.  

Another major  issue involved wage negotiations for the period 2008 to 2010 and 2011 to 2013. Julien also  claimed they were concerned about a reduction in COLA from $1,200 to $988.

In a release yesterday evening, Graeme Suite, acting head of Public Relations and External Affairs at TSTT, said: “TSTT  was informed by its bankers of an issue at the bank that caused salaries to be unavailable for TSTT employees. The company was advised by the bank of what would be done to resolve the issue and subsequently informed the Communications Workers Union. 

“The  bankers were able to resolve the issue and thereby minimise the delay in payment of salaries to just a few hours in most cases and will review the incident to minimise the chance of a recurrence.”

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