Member of Parliament for Princes Town, Barry Padarath MP, during the UNC's virtual meeting on Monday 31 January 2022. (Image courtesy the UNC)

The planned restructuring and requisite job losses at the Telecommunications Services of T&T (TSTT) is a major concern for the United National Congress (UNC).

The announcement by TSTT triggered a candlelight protest by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) with support from the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) who condemned the restructuring.

Member for Princes Town Barry Padarath called TSTT the “assets of the people of T&T”.

“These are not the assets of any private organisation,” Padarath said.

He recalled that back in 2018 when TSTT bough over Massy Communications, questions were raised by the Opposition in Parliament. He said the purchase was “under secret circumstances”.

He said when former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar left office, there were over 3,000 workers at TSTT.  Under this Government, Padarath said, there are now just 1,000 workers.

He said that following today’s meeting with TSTT and representative union, it is anticipated that over 700 workers would be sent home.

“All, all all in an effort to privatize TSTT and further sell out to friends and financiers of the PNM,” he said.

Padarath said he had several questions after “some documents” found its way into his mailbox.

“The very first question I want to ask is whether TSTT breached their contract with Amplia prior to the buying out of Massy Communications with a company called Fujitsu,” he asked.

“Second question, was a storm in a teacup situation created for now CEO of TSTT Lisa Agard, who was then a director at Massy Communications, to threaten legal action against TSTT?” he asked. 

He hinted further: “Documents in my mailbox suggest, and it may very well reveal the circumstances and the reasons Massy Communications was bought over by the Government.”

Padarath asked whether TSTT was “forced” to purchase Massy Communications.

“Are the same players involved in this matter now at senior management levels at TSTT to demonize TSTT employees? Is this an effort to drive TSTT into the ground and transfer assets to Amplia?” Padarath asked.

He said that the TSTT situation followed the same “playbook” as Petrotrin.

He observed that Petrotrin was closed down and Heritage Petroleum opened in its place.  He says now efforts were being made to close down TSTT and transfer everything to Amplia.

“Is this the real reason why four directors, up to January 18th, 2018, resigned from the board?” Padarath asked.

He said that Opposition leader Kamal Persad-Bissessar has been asking these questions since 2018.

“On the eve of over 700 workers to go home, how did they arrive at that situation? They would have us believe that it’s because of the environment, the technological environment with WhatsApp calls and connectivity that is the reason TSTT is losing money,” he said.

He referred to articles from 2019 which showed a soured deal by TSTT, information that was shared by a whistle-blower.  Padarath is now linking the lagging whistle-blower legislation to this case.

Padarath said the documents that found its way to him would now find its way to the police.

“Which Government official is in the middle of this matter?  Which Government Minister met with people in Miami to broker this deal?” Padarath questioned.