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TSTT and CWU Unable to Reach Settlement

TSTT wishes to state its position and provide clarity on the issues relative to its recent collective agreement discussions with the Communications Workers Union and to clear up erroneous information currently circulating in the media.

Allegations that TSTT reneged on an agreement to provide payments to employees for salary back-payments and retroactive employee allowances are simply not true.

Working with renowned industrial relations consultant, Dr. Shafeek Sultan-Khan, the Company and the CWU have held discussions over the past ten days to consider proposals from Dr. Sultan-Khan to settle their current dispute.

Dr. Sultan-Khan has recommended increases in back-pay, cost-of-living adjustments consolidated with salary, and retroactive employee allowances. A key component of his proposals is an employee stock ownership plan. This proposal is a potentially tax-free profit-sharing plan that would give employees a major stake in the future of TSTT. The company, in fact, has offered a ‘bonus contribution’ of $40 million to the plan, contingent on TSTT Board and shareholder approval. This plan is unprecedented among state-owned companies in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Company and the CWU have reviewed and discussed these recommendations extensively. TSTT has stated repeatedly from the outset of the negotiations that settlement on all past, present, and future compensation and management rights issues would be linked. So, while the parties may find certain components of his proposals acceptable, an overall agreement has not been reached.

“We have been very clear from the start of the negotiations that we must have full concurrence on all points before an overall agreement can be reached. It would be unfair for either party to pick and choose which elements are acceptable and claim agreement. That is not bargaining in good faith,” stated Edghill Messiah, TSTT’s Vice President for Human Resources and Administration.

The Union refused certain key changes in the collective agreement proposed by Dr. Sultan-Khan, including future salary and allowance increases and management rights. The Union has put forth a number of counter proposals currently under review by the Company.

TSTT recognizes the value and importance of its employees and is eager to have a new collective agreement in place for the benefit of all. “TSTT operates in an extremely competitive and vibrant industry. Our employees are critical to our success in today’s dynamic marketplace – we must seek to ensure that we survive as a company and as employees,” said Mr. Messiah.

No further meetings are scheduled; however, from the Company’s perspective, it remains open to further negotiations on Dr. Sultan-Khan’s proposals at this time.