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Digicel makes ‘Belongers’ redundant

... TCI moves to revoke expat visas

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter

Friday, October 21, 2016

Telecommunications provider Digicel says it has made redundant a small number of jobs in Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) in efforts to reorganise from a pure mobile operator to a complete communications and entertainment provider in the country.

But it’s a move that has caused outrage in the country and has led to the TCI Government to take steps to revoke the work permits of six expatriate workers at Digicel.

Chairman of the Immigration Board of TCI, Sheba Wilson, yesterday confirmed with the Jamaica Observer that notices have been served to Digicel’s office on Leeward Highway, Providenciales, stating that six work permits, including those of some senior Digicel managers, will be revoked if Digicel does not present valid arguments as to why the positions of TCI nationals were made redundant over the expatriates.

According to a report published by the TCI Sun, Wilson stated that the board has a right to revoke the licence of the expatriates and that it is doing so in the interest of the public. She added that the board felt in this instance that the process was unfair to Turks and Caicos Islanders (otherwise known as "Belongers") who are believed to have the same skill set as the expatriates.

The chairman stated that Digicel was given 30 days in which to respond to the notice in writing, following which the board will take into consideration the representation the company makes, after which a decision will be made with regard to those permits.

While Wilson did not disclose the nationality of the individuals on the list for the permit revocation, she told Caribbean Business Report that the decision of which work permit to revoke was based on the positions made redundant by Digicel and the skill set similar in nature to the redundant employees, which may easily be replaced by a TCI national.

Digicel, a mobile phone network provider which operates in 33 markets across the Caribbean, Central America and Oceana, is headquartered in Jamaica. The company employs two Jamaicans at its operation in TCI.

The telecommunication company has however informed Caribbean Business Report that no Jamaicans were on the list for work permit revocation.

In a release yesterday, Digicel noted that in line with global technology advances, the company has been investing heavily in its networks and processes in the TCI over the past three years.

It added that its investment "sees us restructuring our business to keep putting our customers at the heart of everything we do, which in turn will mean better customer service, faster response time, and integration of all products and services into a streamlined highly functional organisation".

Digicel expressed that although its restructuring process has naturally resulted in a small number of roles being made redundant over the past six months, there have been a number of promotions and that the trend continues with the movement of two TCI nationals to senior leadership and management levels.

The company listed Denise Saunders of South Caicos to the position of sales director and Louis Cesar from Providenciales as new propositions director.

"The restructuring exercise has been advised to the Labour Commission, and those employees whose positions are being made redundant are being really well treated," CEO of Digicel Sinead O Marcaigh said.

"All statutory obligations are being exceeded and significant ex gratia payments are being made to recognise the service, tenure and dedication of those staff members involved," she continued.