Bold step towards recognition at EETelecoms & Financial Services, EE May 1 2018
The CWU has today launched an unprecedented ‘try us for free’ initiative within EE’s call centre environment amid burgeoning confidence that the unprecedented offer will prove a game-changer in the union’s quest for full collective bargaining rights at the BT-owned mobile giant.
Within hours of the ‘new deal’ being announced this morning, early indications are already suggesting that a tidal wave of new joiners will soon change the landscape and place the CWU in a position to realise the union’s long-held ambition of securing a voluntary recognition agreement at EE that mirrors the collective bargaining rights long enjoyed by members in BT.
“We’re not aiming simply for 50 per cent membership in EE, but have our sights set on a far higher level at which it would be impossible to deny the clearly expressed wish of EE workers to be represented by a recognised trade union,” stresses CWU assistant secretary John East.
“To get to that stage we need the overwhelming membership numbers that have traditionally underpinned the union’s negotiating strength at BT – and, despite the excellent membership growth we’ve already recorded in EE since BT’s takeover, the challenge of unionising a company from scratch was always going to be a long haul.
“As such we’ve decided to turbo-charge our recruitment activity at EE by producing a one-off membership offering that allows everyone in the EE call centre environment to see for themselves what the union can offer them at completely zero cost.”
Under the scheme, not only will new joiners be able to access the full range of CWU benefits, services and representation completely free of charge until such a time when recognition is achieved at EE – but that same deal is also being extended to existing EE contact centre members in recognition of their loyal support of the union to date.
At a stroke this allows the union to challenge head on the assertions that have been made by some EE Employee Forum representatives and local managers that employees ‘don’t need to join a union because they can get exactly the same help and support from elsewhere for free’.
John continues: “The truth is that claim has always been demonstrably wrong, because there’s a world of difference between an independent trade union and a consultative body which is funded by the company when it comes to tackling the genuine concerns of workers.
“An employee forum simply doesn’t have the opportunities for independent thinking that a free-standing trade union has; neither the resources, legal back-up and the training in employment law that a union brings to the table when representing individual members who have run into problems at work – and they certainly don’t have the ability to represent staff in pay negotiations or in discussions over job content, grading and pay in the same way as a recognised trade union.
“The new membership deal we are now offering will allow those EE contact centre employees who have previously been swayed by the argument that TU membership is a waste of money to put us to the test without having to part with a penny. We’re convinced they will see a world of difference, and that’s not even to mention the whole host of membership benefits and money-saving deals that are listed on the union’s website (www.cwu.org)
“Above everything this is a bold step that allows people who may never have been a trade union member before to see for themselves what trade unions are all about – something that is not always evident in the non-recognised sector where union reps just don’t have the day to day visibility that they have in a company like BT.
“We want to make it clear that it’s no accident that in a company like BT – where CWU membership levels stand at around 90 per cent in the call centre environment – staff enjoy some of the highest rates of pay and best Ts&Cs in the sector.”
Positive day one reaction
Within hours of the news EE contact centre membership deal being broken to existing members last night, well over 200 emails had been received at headquarters welcoming the news, with many members asking how they could become actively involved in the campaign for recognition.
The announcement also created a buzz at the pre-scheduled ‘CWU Access Day’ held at EE’s Plymouth call centre and at the Astral Building in Darlington today. Well over 100 new members were signed up by early afternoon.
On Thursday (April 3) the union will be promoting the new deal at the company’s Greenock and Darlington Global sites – before moving on to the Darlington Nexus building on Friday.
On Tuesday May 8 CWU recruiters will be at Doxford, moving on to North Tyneside Building 1 on the 9th and North Tyneside Building 2 on the 10th – before concluding the current round of Access Days in Merthyr Tydfil on Thursday May 17.