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Published On: Thu, Feb 18th, 2021

Relationship between TelEm and union deteriorates

~ TelEm CEO admits to ghetto tone in letter to SMCU ~

PHILIPSBURG -- The relationship between TelEm’s Chief Executive Officer Kendal Dupersoy and Ludson Evers, the President of the St. Maarten Communication Union (SMCU) is deteriorating fast, it appear from correspondence between the two parties.

The latest controversy began with a letter Dupersoy sent to the union on February 12. In it, he outlines six ideas for cost cutting measures. Dupersoy explains that he asked the government and financial supervisor Cft to clarify how the 12.5 percent cuts will have to be applied. He did not receive a reaction from the Cft and the answer from the government gave “no comfort.”

“We suggested on numerous occasions to wait until there is clarity but you indicated that you did not want to wait. This is causing unrest among our employees,” Dupersoy wrote.

TelEm selected six options for cost cutting: reduction of five vacation days, elimination of the savings plan and the on-call allowance, reduction of vacation allowance by 60 percent and no payment of profit-share and year-end bonuses. This year there will be no salary increases.

“The merit max bonuses that have been processed in January will have to be reversed,” Dupersoy wrote. Employees will be allowed to pay back over a period of twelve months.

A day later the union sent its reply, calling Dupersoy’s letter “shockingly disrespectful and autocratic.” SMCU-President Evers wrote that the TelEm CEO is “unwilling or incapable” to negotiate in good faith with the unions.

Furthermore Evers claimed that “the government has not imposed any measures to reduce our labor conditions,” but that he is willing to discuss them once they have become law. “Until then you have no jurisdiction to make any cuts.”

That letter did not sit well with Dupersoy who gave the union leader a piece of his mind in a letter dated February 17.

“Do you like playing victim?” That is the famous first line of this letter. Dupersoy writes to Evers that “your constant bullying of staff and management is disrespectful. You claim that I do not want to negotiate but you behave in an autocratic way. You refuse to acknowledge the company’s financial situation and you refuse to negotiate a new collective labor agreement that better reflects the current telecom situation worldwide.”

Dupersoy furthermore notes that Evers has “no intention to sit down to come to a realistic solution with limited impact on employees. You prefer to stick your head in the sand by making statements like “the government has not imposed any measures to reduce our labor conditions” while you are fully aware of the law that was passed in parliament two weeks ago.”

The union refuses to get together with TelEm management for talks about the cuts, saying it has put the matter in the hands of the labor mediator. “Management will adhere to the rules and engage in the process,” Dupersoy states in his letter.

'Ghetto letter'

When StMaartenNews.com contacted the CEO of TelEm, Dupersoy admitted that the tone of the first paragraph was not the best. He indicated that even though he waited a full 4 hours before responding, the personal attacks were not appreciated.

In his response to SMCU he addressed the constant lies perpetuated by the union to paint him in a negative light.

The issue is not about him but about the staff. SMCU has taken the position of sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the upcoming law. As CEO he is responsible for not only the company but the employees as well. The position of SMCU will lead to disastrous results for the employees, an issue SMCU does not seem to care about. Having said that, the CEO admits that the letter lacked the professionalism that is required of a CEO not withstanding the personal attacks by SMCU.

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