Will the government nationalize BTL? That’s the course of action suggested
by an Amandala editorial yesterday. And while newspaper editorials don’t
set government policy, our information suggests that this one was more than
just a shot in the dark, it was more like a trial balloon for an idea that’s
gaining some currency in government circles. Speaking with Prime Minister Dean
Barrow by telephone today, he was decidedly non committal, saying that as regards
the BTL impasse, his government is, “looking at all options” and
“what they’ve raised (in the Amandala editorial) is not excluded.”
It would be a bold and unprecedented move, and the consequences wide and far-reaching...but
is it the kind of nuclear solution the generally conservative Barrow administration
would pursue? That’s left to be seen but a memo sent out to BTL employees
yesterday from the employees trust discusses what it calls quote, a “rumor
that government may even be considering buying Telemedia.” The trust is
a 22% block of shares in the company which is nominally owned by the employees
but is managed, controlled, operated and articulated from within the cockpit
of some anonymous corporate mother-ship.
The memo says that Telemedia would consider such a sale at fair market value.
Of course, the determination of fair market value for Telemedia varies greatly
depending on whether or not the Accommodation Agreement is included in the sale.
If it is left out – Telemedia’s position is that difference in the
sale price is quote, “mind-bogglingly” different. And, government’s
stated position is that the Accommodation Agreement is illegal and immoral and
will not be entertained – which seems to dash hopes for a negotiated buy
And that leaves few agreeable options which our sources say means that the
days ahead will likely see conflict replaced by confrontation as government
may seek an enforced resolution. But whatever the case it’s clear from
yesterday’s memo to staff that that Telemedia’s strategy is to use
the Employee's Trust as a powerful wedge to give the workers the sense that they
have a stake in future manoeuvres.
We say that because the always mysteriously managed trust has announced that
it will do what was hitherto thought to be unheard of: that is, nominate two
employeea as trustees with the stated expectation that if the company is sold,
a cash payment would be forthcoming to all employees.