Close the Gap campaign tour kicks off in style in Doncaster

Telecoms & Financial Services, Manpower UK Ltd (BT contract)

Following on from last month’s launch of a major new CWU campaign aimed at winning justice for agency workers, the union has taken to the road to highlight the second class treatment of around 2,000 Manpower employees working on the BT account.

Yesterday (Tuesday) the national Close the Gap campaign tour got off to a colourful start in Doncaster with local CWU activists dressing up as Robin Hood characters and handing out bags of chocolate coins to highlight the unequal and unacceptably low pay rates that continue to be applied to agency workers on so-called ‘Pay Between Assignment’ contracts.

Coming just 24 hours after the Living Wage Foundation upwardly revised the Real Living Wage to £8.75 – the amount it says is the minimum required outside London for a decent quality of life – the poignant message in Doncaster, where many Manpower members earn just £7.50 an hour, was  ‘…AND THE GAP JUST GOT BIGGER!’

The strength of feeling locally about the pay discrepancy between the pay rates enjoyed by directly employed BT staff and longer-serving agency workers on ‘equal pay’ contracts – compared to those on PBA contracts – promoted hundreds to sign the CWU petition calling on BT and Manpower to ‘Close the Gap’.

National Officer Sally Bridge, who led the day’s campaigning in Doncaster, said: “The Robin Hood theme adopted by the Lincs & South Yorks branch could not have been more appropriate. As the Close the Gap campaign tour gets underway, my message to members across the country is get involved, sign the petition and go on social media using the hashtag #CloseTheGap.

NEC member Tracey Fussey added: “It’s been a great day at Doncaster  – we’ve had lots of members outside coming to talk to us about the Close the Gap campaign…and we’re now on our way to Dundee where we’ll be highlighting the longstanding injustice endured by our PBA contract Manpower members today (Wednesday).”

Other national campaign team members are simultaneously heading southwest to assist the Somerset, Devon and Cornwall branch’s campaign day outside BT’s Truro call centre.

On Thursday the Close the Gap campaign tour will arrive in Blackburn before pitching up outside BT sites in Belfast and Glasgow on Friday.

Next week Close the Gap protests will take place in South Shields on Monday, Gosforth and Bangor on Tuesday, Canterbury on Wednesday, Warrington on Thursday and Lincoln on Friday.

Then, in its third and final week, the campaign tour will pitch up in Sandwell on Monday November 20, shifting to Leicester on Wednesday 22nd before concluding on Thursday November 23 with split-site campaigning on both sides if the Irish Sea in Portadown and Liverpool.

Sally Bridge concludes: “This campaign has really started to gain momentum and we have already been approached by MPs, the Labour Party and other interested parties who not only want to show solidarity but want to get fully involved.

We will be in contact with them soon! ”

“With that in mind, I’d urge Manpower members who feel strongly on this issue to contact us on agencycampaign@cwu.org – and for all CWU members to sign the petition that is doing the rounds, or print off a copy at www.cwu.org/campaign/close-the-gap/ and collect signatures themselves.”

The petition will be delivered to both Manpower and BT – highlighting to both companies the fact that CWU patience has well and truly expired with regards to years of inaction and buck-passing on a blatant and keenly-felt injustice.

  •  A full round-up of the Close the Gap tour will appear in the next issue of The Voice