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Union calls for deeper probe into CWC-Columbus merger:

Published: 
Monday, April 6, 2015

Within hours of announcements from Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) and Columbus International of the finalisation of their US$3.025 billion merger, the most vocal critic of the deal, the Communication Workers’ Union CWU), sent off letters calling for a deeper probe of its approval by the Telecommunications Authority of T&T (Tatt). The letters were addressed to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Finance Minister Larry Howai and Kenny Lue Chee Lip, chairman of National Enterprises Limited, and were all signed by CWU secretary general Joseph Remy. 

The union is contending that there was a lack of transparency in Tatt’s approval of the merger, resulting in the national patrimony being sold out “without due care and consideration.” CWU, the majority union at TSTT, has asked the prime minister to do an urgent review of the approval process and is calling for her intervention to protect the local telecommunications industry.

Remy also raised questions about the conditions set out by Tatt for CWC to dispose of its 49 per cent shareholding in TSTT. He said there was an apparent infringement of NEL shareholders’ rights since no meetings were held to discuss the implications of that agreement, or its impact on shareholders’ equity in TSTT. In the letter to Howai, Remy claimed the CWC’s presence on the TSTT board while the merger with Columbus was being pursued was “contrary to good and ethical business practices.”

He said CWC was involved in development of a strategic plan which included the voluntary separation of more than 300 senior TSTT employees. “Our analysis of this development points to the fact that Cable and Wireless Communications is now poised to recruit these employees in the new entity that would evolve from this acquisition—employees with intimate knowledge of TSTT’s operations and strategic direction,” Remy said.

He called on Howai, in his capacity as corporation sole, to launch an investigation to determine whether Tatt’s approval of the merger was done in the best interests of citizens of T&T. The union wants to meet with Lue Chee Lip to discuss the future direction of TSTT.

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