Full steam ahead to industrial action ballot as members see through BT cash ‘bribe’Telecoms & Financial Services March 25 2021
Members across BT, Openreach and EE have delivered a resounding message of defiance after BT’s surprise attempt to kick this year’s pay review into touch by fobbing off employees with one-off cash ‘bung’.
Within minutes of management’s disingenuous announcement yesterday (Wednesday) of “an exceptional package for an exceptional year” – and the simultaneous release of a CWU counter-message to members exposing the company’s “desperate move” for exactly what it is – there was no doubting which argument was winning amongst those who really count.
Throughout the day all the CWU’s social media channels were bombarded with renewed messages of support from members for the union’s ‘Count Me In’ campaign of resistance against ruthless attacks on job security and hard won terms & conditions that have erupted across the whole of BT Group.
In addition to countless furious social media posts, hundreds of emails were also received by the union from members expressing their astonishment and dismay at management’s apparent belief that employee anger over compulsory redundancies and looming site closures can be ‘bought off’ with a £1,000 ‘bribe’.
Yesterday evening, no fewer than 14,000 tuned in to a special CWU Facebook Live session across the union’s social media channels – a record breaking real-time viewing figure which has continued to grow throughout today with catch-up views.
Poignantly the Facebook Live broadcast took place at the end of the tenth day of industrial action by the unions small but fiercely loyal membership of Repayment Project Engineers (RPEs) in Openreach – themselves fighting against that division’s steadfast refusal to listen to genuine workforce concerns about the imposed regrading of their role.
With anger now reaching boiling point across the whole of BT Group at the similar disregard being shown by top bosses to employee dismay at the company’s current trajectory, the union has now set up a special CWU solidarity fund to provide financial support for the 170-strong group of brave RPE strikers.
“We will not leave this small group of members isolated,” stresses CWU general secretary Dave Ward. See full details here
Employees ‘not hoodwinked’
Speaking in last night’s Facebook Live session, deputy general secretary Andy Kerr stressed that the union’s door remains open to talks that the CWU still believes could resolve not just the current dispute in Openreach but the wider conflagration which will undoubtedly follow unless management changes tack.
“This is not a battle we want,” he insisted. “I don’t believe there is any need for compulsory redundancies in this company – and on pay and terms and conditions a blue chip company like BT should be leading the marketplace, not trailing it.
“The company might have thought that it could hoodwink some of our members by its latest announcement but that clearly isn’t the case. Members have seen through what they’re trying to do.
“If BT thinks we’ve got to the peak of our campaigning they’re sadly mistaken. Over the next few weeks our campaign will grow and grow – and when we run the industrial action ballot we’ll win it!”
CWU president and chair of the T&FS Executive Karen Rose agreed: “We’ve now witnessed an act of desperation from the company where they’ve attempted to win your support via a bribe.
“They’ve put a price on your job, a price on the future of your workplace and a price on replacing a proper pay review that would protect the value of your pay – and that price is £1,000 before tax and national insurance!
“It seems they genuinely believed that you would withdraw your support for the union for about £700 in cash…but it’s clear you’ve seen this bribe for exactly what it is. They can put a price on your job but they can’t put a price on your dignity!
“Our priority now is not to be distracted by this sideshow,” Karen concluded. “It’s now the job of every single person in this union to focus on winning the forthcoming industrial action ballot. To quote a very old BT adage, ‘it’s good to talk’ – so let’s make sure that every single member is part of that conversation, and lets deliver the biggest ‘yes’ vote in our history.”
- See last night’s Facebook Live session here