Consultative ballot on strike action in Technology as compulsory redundancies loom largeTelecoms & Financial Services, BT October 22 2020
Thursday 22nd October 2020
With the first of nearly 200 disputed compulsory redundancies in BT Technology due to become effective at the end of next week – and more job losses set to be announced – members across the division are being asked to register their willingness to take industrial action ahead of a formal strike ballot.
The consultative ballot of the union’s entire BT Technology membership, which commenced this morning, comes as industrial relations – already shaken by management’s shocking decision to abandon a decades-old approach to dealing with staff surpluses voluntarily, instead opting to directly serve compulsory redundancy (CR) notices – have been rocked to the core by two further management bombshells.
First, in an extraordinary act of bad faith, senior management last month pulled the rug on a final CWU counter-proposal based on an innovative ‘job swap’ idea, which could have eradicated the need for wholesale CRs, even as the ink was drying on a draft agreement between company and CWU negotiators. (See story here)
Then, just days later, shameless bosses plumbed the depths once again – announcing that User Access Management work in IT will be transferred offshore to India, directly leading to more compulsory redundancies in the UK.
Yet despite both demonstrations of the utter contempt with which Technology appears intent on treating loyal ‘key workers’ who’ve kept the country connected through the pandemic, the CWU has continued to press management to exhaust all possible alternatives for those about to be shown the door.
But faced with continued stony-faced intransigence – plus the grim expectation that Technology is now poised to push the button on ‘Phase 2’ of its ‘Transformation Programme’ – CWU patience has finally expired.
The snap consultative ballot- which will run for just a week so it can deliver an unmistakable message of workforce fury to management before any compulsory redundancies become effective, asks: ‘In the event that the union obtains a ‘YES’ vote in a future ballot for industrial action are you willing to take part in official industrial action consisting of a strike?’
CWU national officer for Technology, Sally Bridge explains: “Since July the CWU has made every possible effort to work with BT Technology to avoid compulsory redundancies. However, all our counter-proposals have been rejected by management, despite firm evidence secured by our own surveying of members that there would have been more than enough volunteers prepared to leave under voluntary redundancy terms.
“We therefore face the stark reality that, despite the best efforts of the CWU National Team, nearly 200 team members are under imminent threat of compulsory redundancy – with some due to be forced out of the company as soon as the end of next week.
“On top of that we know that fresh proposals are just round the corner under ‘Phase 2’ of the ‘Transformation Programme’ – with further tranches of job losses already known to be on the cards – and that is even before the full impact of the so-called ‘Better Workplace’ site rationalisation programme is truly felt.
“In view of this intolerable position, the union needs to decide how to proceed and that is why we are asking our members in Technology the question we always hoped could be avoided – namely whether they would be prepared to take industrial action if management cannot be persuaded to change course.”
Urging all members in Technology to cast their vote – and to vote ‘YES’ en-masse – Sally concludes: “Even those who have not been affected by any of the changes announced to date need to appreciate that their job may no longer be safe in this brutal new environment.
“Above everything we need everyone to support their colleagues who are already staring down the barrel of a gun by delivering the clearest possible message to BT Technology that the way it is behaving is simply not acceptable.”
- Electronic ballot papers were issued this morning (Thursday October 22) and the consultative E-ballot will close on Thursday October 29 – with the result being announced shortly afterwards
CWU members across BT Group urged to throw their collective weight behind the CWU’s Count Me In campaign of resistance against the many and varied attacks on job security and terms & conditions across the company – of which the current redundancy situation in BT Technology is just one example.
A special video explaining why a concerted fightback is now crucial can be viewed below: