‘Close The Gap’ tour reaches its crescendo

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

The CWU’s high profile Close the Gap tour of the UK to expose the second class treatment of around 2,000 Manpower employees working on the BT account is now reaching its crescendo – with a busy programme of activity  due to round off the third and final week of the present bout of ‘on the road’ campaigning with a bang.

Yesterday (Monday) Sandwell was the focus of attention – and the Birmingham , Black Country & Worcester branch pulled out all the stops to lay on a colourful and photogenic day of campaigning to ensure that huge discrepancies in pay rates between agency employees and BT contract staff conducting directly comparable roles could not possible be ignored.

On Thursday (November 23) the Close the Gap tour will have its final hurrah with a split-site day of campaigning outside BT call centres on opposite sides of the Irish Sea in Portadown and Liverpool bringing the tour to a suitably up-beat  conclusion.

Momentum has been steadily building since the Close the Gap tour kicked off in Doncaster on November 7 – and in the first week of the tour alone thousands of signatures were collected for a petition calling on BT and Manpower to ‘close the gap’ in pay rates as the tour criss-crossed the country from Dundee to Truro, Blackburn, Belfast and Glasgow.

That momentum was maintained throughout week two of the tour, with highly successful events taking place in South Shields on November 13, Gosforth and Bangor on the 14th, Canterbury on the 15th,  Warrington on the 16th and Lincoln on the 17th (see videos below).

Commenting on the head of steam building up behind the Close the Gap campaign, assistant secretary Sally Bridge pointed out that the interest shown by local media outlets across the country, councillors and even a number of MP’s mean that the campaign is now poised to enter a new phase once the current ‘roadshow’ draws to a close.

“Our nationwide tour may now be in its final days – but the real business of raising the visibility of a blatant injustice amongst opinion formers is only just beginning,” she said.

“We’ve 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…and rest assured we will be pursuing this next phase of the campaign in earnest in the coming weeks and months.”

“The Close the Gap tour may be entering its final lap – but the wider campaign is anything but over…so watch this space!’

Meanwhile, the scale of the effort put in to organising Close the Gap events by branches has drawn high praise from deputy general secretary (T&FS) Andy Kerr.

Congratulating all those involved, Andy stressed the whirlwind of activity “shows that when we need to our branches can really put on a good show to fight injustice in the workplace. Keep up the good work!”

He concluded: “Our Manpower members deserve equal pay and, at the very least, the Real Living Wage – and we will continue to fight for this across all fronts.”

·      Any CWU members working for BT or Manpower who have not yet signed the CWU’s Close the Gap petition over the last few weeks should watch out for it as it continues to do the rounds – or alternatively print off a copy at www-cwu-org.www.cwu.org/campaign/close-the-gap/ and collect signatures themselves.

Similarly, Manpower members who feel strongly on the issue of unequal pay rates are urged to contact the union on agencycampaign@cwu.org to find out how they can get directly involved.

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