Last week, Belize Telemedia Limited, aka Digi, made the evening news after the Belize National Teachers Union publicly alleged that they are among the tax dodgers who should pay up before the Briceno Government thinks about cutting salaries for teachers and public officers.

Tonight, they're back in the news because they're announcing in order to continue surviving the COVID-induced economic crisis, they have to cut costs and send staff home. And that's why they're acknowledging that they have reduced their workforce by 4%. That means that 24 employees are being terminated due to redundancy, and the company is asserting that they tried their best to avoid this.

In a press release from today, BTL says, quote, "We explored and exhausted many options, unfortunately, these efforts were not enough. This difficult but necessary redundancy exercise addresses the structural overcapacity the organization is experiencing due to the economic headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic which began in March 2020." End quote.

The company reiterates that there has its revenues have experienced an unprecedented decline in revenues of $33 million dollars over the last fiscal year.

They add that these 24 employees who were negatively impacted by their downsizing exercise were told of the possibility from as early as April last year. The staff body was provided with cost optimization measures. They were implemented in phases, and these strategies allowed the company to save 24 million dollars, as was announced at the last BTL AGM.

Those measures included a hiring freeze; a reduction of planned capital spending; a reduction of operational expenses; a reduction of management salaries and allowances; the foregoing management bonuses; a reduction of staff allowances and deferring staff bonuses; and a reduction of Board of Director's stipends.

But the company's leadership thinks that more needs to be done in order for BTL to more nimbly maneuver the financial struggles of the pandemic.

Their press release says, quote, "The reductions come into effect beginning today and the management of BTL has worked closely with the Employee's bargaining agent, the Belize Communications Workers Union, and the Labor Commissioner to implement these changes, respecting always the terms and philosophy of the collective bargaining agreement, as well as abiding by the Labor Laws of Belize. In addition to the statutory packages being paid out, all employees affected are receiving added benefits to assist with this transition."

In a press release of their own, the Belize Communications Workers Union says quote, "The BCWU Executives empathize with the members that were impacted by the recent redundancy exercise… In order to safeguard the livelihood of its employees, and the sustainability of the company, the union and the company entered a cost optimization initiative.

In spite of those initiatives, the company presented data that show that its financial position has not improved, and as such, made the decision to undertake a redundancy exercise to improve efficiency and the continuous reduction in operation. Unfortunately, the livelihood of many members was impacted due to this exercise. BCWU Executives made certain that his exercise was carried out in accordance with the Labor Act and the Collective Bargain Agreement." End quote.

The union goes on to assure that they exhausted all options to try and avoid this redundancy exercise.

Channel 7