Thirteen sent home with full pay: Telem begins placing staff in restructured company

POSTED: 06/25/12 3:15 PM

St. Maarten – Telem’s management recently asked thirteen employees who have not been placed in its new company to stay home on full pay while the company considers whether to hire them for open functions in the new company. The request is part of the company’s transition from being TelEm Group – TelEm, Smitcoms N.V., and TelCell N.V. – to St. Maarten Telecommunication Operation Company N.V. (SMTOC) and the resulting restructuring.
Staffers were officially informed about whether they’d been placed in the new company or not on June 20. This was done in collaboration with independent consultants from Price Waterhouse Coopers and Global Resourcing and with full disclosure to the union. Management has assured all personnel that TelEm Group will meet all its obligations to personnel transferring to the new company and most importantly to personnel who will cease to be employed by TelEm Group. These obligations will be in accordance with the present Collective Labour Agreement (CLA), the transfer agreement and the social plan which were signed with the union representing TelEm Group personnel. The management has also committed to providing support services to assist non-placed staff with interviews, recommendations and training for positions with other companies where their services may be required.
“Management is very sensitive to any pain that may be experienced by staff as a result of this phase of the restructuring process, however the actions taken are in the long-term interest of the company and the sustaining of the remaining jobs that may otherwise be lost unless these necessary steps are taken,” a release states.
Telem Group had roughly 200 staffers two years ago. By strictly controlling new hires, not renewing definite contracts and not replacing staff who have gone on pension or who have resigned from the company, management has naturally reduced the staff to approximately 175. Excluding some vacancies management will maintain a staffing level of 134 members of staff after the restructuring process of which 13 were recently informed they are not placed in the SMTOC in addition to 28 other members of staff who resigned, accepted voluntary leave and early pension packages mostly during the month of May and were also not placed.
The 13 members of staff not yet placed will be considered in a second round of placement, if suitable positions are available. Management has stated that on the whole the level of downsizing consists of approximately 25 members of staff in the past two (two) years from non-replacement of staff etc., and approximately 41 members of staff in recent days mainly from the restructuring process. Approximately 20 vacant positions might be left to be filled by persons mostly of HBO level qualifications.
Telem’s management says it has seriously tried to retain many personnel, some whom in actual fact did not meet the stricter criteria and requirements that are now being demanded for placement in the new company. They also say that in discussion with the union and taking into consideration the part TelEm Group plays in the local community and economy, a serious degree of leniency has been exercised and more staff has been retained than expected.
“The placement and non-placement of staff must be seen in the context of decisions taken many years ago to make the company processes more efficient, reduce the manpower levels, make the company lean and mean and also to place correct persons in correct “best fit” positions within the company.”
People who are offered positions in the new company will be addressed by their own department managers and later by the company’s executives on how the company will be moving forward in the coming weeks and months.
“These steps are being taken for no other reason than the continued sustainability and long-term viability of TelEm Group and its personnel. Management is particularly sensitive at this time to the concerns and disappointments of persons who have not yet been placed. The next phase of the process is the lodging of objections and appeals to an independent appeal committee for staff who are not pleased with the offers made to them. In light of the sensitivity of this restructuring process, management must continue to be sensitive to the information it gives to the media and to the public,” a release states.
“TelEm Group is no different to any telecommunication company around the world that has been forced to make drastic changes, especially in personnel, due to changes and developments in the telecommunication industry. Traditionally high revenue earners such as international calling has been replaced by services such as Skype through which callers can speak for hours for free, making use of TelEm’s own telecommunication infrastructure. Voice services are also reduced drastically due to the use of popular data ping and whatsapp services,” the release continues.
“Telecommunication companies can offset some of the losses of voice calls by increasing their data services and broadband services, however, competition dictate lowest prices and minimal profit margins. The only way TelEm Group can continue to compete successfully and remain a viable company is to become lean and mean, become more efficient and step up its services and the quality and professionalism of its personnel – that in essence is what a good part of the restructuring process has been. There is no truth to reports in the media that TelEm Group has sent home workers as a precursor to signing a partnership agreement with DIGICEL or UTS. The present partnering talks are apart and distinct from the restructuring process that is taking place and there is no connection between the two at this stage,” the release concludes.

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