Restructuring process completed – TelEm Group slims down to staff of 134

POSTED: 11/26/12 2:19 PM

St. Maarten – TelEm Group management last Thursday announced the official closing off of the company’s restructuring process following months of negotiation and final implementation.

In a brief ceremony, management and union used Thanksgiving to give thanks for the successful completion of restructuring within the TelEm Group and exchanged mutual congratulatory messages for carrying out a “difficult, but necessary” exercise in the company’s history.

All personnel remaining with the company after restructuring have been successfully moved from the former Sint Maarten Telephone Company N.V. to the new Sint Maarten Telecommunication Holding Company N.V.

At the end of the exercise the number of personnel in TelEm Group has been reduced from 200 to 134 following a program of voluntary leave, early retirement, non-placement of staff and non-replacement of non essential staff positions during the past three years. The staffing levels are expected to rise to no more than 154 workers should remaining vacancies be filled.

During a short ceremony at the TelEm Group Building management and union were joined by the chairman of the Supervisory Board of Directors of the Sint Maarten Telecommunication Company N.V. Rafael Boasman, to recognize the work of various stakeholders.

Chief Financial Officer Helma Etnel said the process has been a large and painful one for all parties concerned requiring much preparation from the transition agreement, the social plan and the new collective labor agreement.

“Most people focus on the placement only but it took us more than a year to complete the process. It included how to place workers, how to prepare the new organization, new and more efficient ways of working, manpower planning and after placement, the objection and appeal process.

“The most intense part was between April and June when management and union worked together, sometimes on a daily basis, to take decisions to the benefit of the company and staff. In the end you will have some pain, but by proceeding the way we have we have minimized it. We have now placed as many people as possible in the new company,” Etnel said.

Chief commercial Officer Brian Mingo said his initial fears of a social nightmare from restructuring did not become a reality because of the strong measures management put in place to ensure fair and transparent treatment for its personnel.

Chief Technical Officer Eldert Louisa also recognized the diligent work carried out by both parties in the long-term interest of the company, but he preferred to look forward to what remains to be done, especially in the technical department.

The next step will be intensive training programs for staff and new work practices to become a better company Etnel said. “We still need each other, and hopefully we can continue to prepare this company for the future,” Etnel said.

President of the SMCU Ludson Evers, acknowledged that the restructuring process had not been an easy task. “We had battles to get restructuring going because of partnering talks that were going on at the time. We had our disagreements and there were a lot of emotions, but we still managed to come out of this in a positive way after signing different agreements and amendments. We want to thank the employees who have left us and those who remain and who have had to put up with this heavy, heavy burden that was resting on their shoulders, because it was a very stressful moment for them as well.”

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Directors Rafael Boasman, praised both TelEm Group management and the SMCU union for putting personalities aside so that they could complete a very difficult task. “In all my years involved in the labor movement I have never witnessed a re-organization that was completed with a relatively small union working along with a management team that had a number of projects running, all at the same time. “The odds were in favor of losing rather than winning and yet you both managed to bring it to a successful conclusion with mutual respect and without the need for any industrial actions or lockouts,” Boasman said.


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