Reorganization UTS Curacao has no consequences here

POSTED: 11/15/13 2:47 PM

Carty: “We’ll be choosier with sponsorships and donations”

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Telecom provider UTS in Curacao intends to cut its payroll by 33 percent from 600 to 400. Director Paul de Geus said that this is necessary to make the company effective and efficient. UTS has set a process for voluntary departure in motion. If this does not yield the desired results, forced dismissals will follow in January of next year. Glen Carty, Chief Operating Officer of UTS Eastern Caribbean told this newspaper yesterday that the measure has no consequences for the telecom provider in Sint Maarten, but that it is considering changes to its sponsorship and donations policy next year..

“The incumbent companies like UTS in Curacao and TelEm in Sint Maarten have been streamlining their operations for the past ten years,” Carty said. UTS Sint Maarten NV has been established as a stand-alone company under the UTS Eastern Caribbean holding. “This structure will allow us to do things ninety percent faster.”

UTS has 52 employees in Sint Maarten. “The reorganization in Curacao does not mean anything for us here,” Carty said. “It is true that the economy is not like it was a couple of years ago, but the difference between Philipsburg and Willemstad is that the competition over there is fierce.”

UTS’ competitor in Sint Maarten, TelEm, was until four years ago saddled with a payroll of just over 200. Interim manager Pieter Drenth told this newspaper on the eve of his departure that he could run a similar company in Europe “with fewer than one hundred employees.” In the meantime, TelEm has slowly but surely massaged its bloated payroll and brought it down by now to around 135 – still 83 more than UTS Sint Maarten is paying every month.

De Geus said earlier this week that the revenue for UTS in Curacao is no longer growing due to the rise of new technologies like social media, increased competition and the lack of economic growth that causes the average consumer to spend less.

De Geus said that UTS has economized already 30 million guilders on non-staff expenditures since 2010. The company slashed expenses for marketing, sponsoring and consultancy, the lease of real estate, cars and the deployment of contractors. These austerity measures appeared not enough to make UTS efficient and effective.

“The fact is that we are no longer able to sustain our personnel expenditures,” De Geus said. “We have gone the extra mile to save on all kinds of expenditures, but we have reached the limit. All that remains now are the personnel costs.”

UTS Curacao started already in August with offers for voluntary departure to staff members, but the reactions were minimal. Sitkom-chairman Emilio Brunken made a counter proposal that excludes forced dismissals. This month UTS will make a new proposal to its employees for voluntary departure. But if the company does not hit the target of 200, it will revert to forced dismissals in January.

Glen Carty said yesterday that departing or fired UTS-employees have the option to apply for a position in St. Maarten. “However, as a corporate citizen, our preference is obviously to offer jobs to people in St. Maarten.”

While UTS Sint Maarten is not faced with the quandary the parent company in Curacao finds itself in, the company is definitely keeping a firm grip on the purse strings. “Our budget must check out,” Carty said. “There has to be a balance between our revenue and our expenditures. Next year we will become a little bit choosier with sponsorships and donations.”

Carty said that UTS is working on a sponsorship policy that will take effect next year. “We must make sure that our money ends up in the right spots. We want to support initiatives that support the economy. Partying is pleasant, to show our gratitude to our customers, but we must also make sure that sponsorships contribute to a better quality of life in the long run.”



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