Trinidad union to mount protest against CWC/Flow merger

CableAndWireless-1Port of Spain, Trinidad (CMC) — The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) says it plans to step up action to prevent the Trinidad and Tobago government giving regulatory support to moves by the British telecommunications giant, Cable and Wireless Communication (CWC) to acquire Columbus Communication.

“Our Carnival now start. We intend to start campaigning and informing the people about how this Cable and Wireless deal could hurt the country,” said CWU secretary general Joseph Remy.

Last year, both companies announced the deal in a joint statement, saying the proposed acquisition, valued at US$3.025 billion will enable the combined company to significantly accelerate its growth strategy, improve service delivery to customers in the region, offer customers a comprehensive portfolio of high-quality products and services, and strengthen their position against larger competitors.

But Remy told reporters that most the five billion US dollars earned by the region’s telecommunication sector is taken away by foreign multi-nationals and his union strongly opposes the new deal announced by CWC and Columbus Communication.

“In this scenario where Cable and Wireless Communications is seeking regulatory approval for merging their operations with Columbus Communications, we must ask whether this is a good policy.

“The data reveals that the major beneficiaries from the revenues generated from the telecommunication sector are the foreign multinationals, namely Cable and Wireless, Columbus Communications and Digicel.

“An average of 80 per cent of the returns derived from the telecommunication sector is repatriated out of the region,” Remy told reporters, noting telecommunications was one of the key sectors to bring about economic diversification.

“A well structured and properly regulated telecommunications sector in Trinidad and Tobago can accrue tremendous benefits to the country by providing access to modern communications for local businesses to operate more competitively, by facilitating modern forms of working and by providing a backbone for sustainable benefits,” he said.

He also said CWC’s acquisition of Columbus would be a “conflict of interest” since the company would have control of the operations of Flow.

“This would mean that Cable and Wireless would have the majority shareholding in a significant shareholding interest, TSTT (Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago).

“This is an open and flagrant case of conflict of interest and can also infringe on antitrust regulations. How can Cable and Wireless be allowed to compete with itself?” Remy asked.

Remy said CWU was demanding that the Trinidad and Tobago government reject the request by CWC for regulatory approval of the acquisition because it would not serve the interest of Trinidad and Tobago and will have “serious negative implications for the telecommunication sector”.

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