Hey BT, listen to your workers!Telecoms & Financial Services, BT August 26 2020
Wednesday 26th August 2020
Out and about in London with the CWU’s ‘Count Me In’ campaign…
Central London saw one of our first outdoor trade union protests for many months today – socially-distanced, limited in numbers, and abiding strictly with all appropriate precautions of course – but the CWU is out and about publicly campaigning, fighting to save jobs and oppose compulsory redundancies.
Starting at the very heart of our nation’s Government, in Parliament Square, Andy Kerr and Sally Bridge sent a live CWU facebook-broadcast out to members all around the country early this morning to explain the purpose of the day’s activity.
In normal circumstances, “we would have had hundreds here,” said our deputy general secretary (T&FS), “we’re certainly getting mass support from thousands of our members out there.”
The ‘Count Me In’ campaign has been sparked by BT’s attitude towards its 50,000-plus workforce and the impact on staff of the company’s reorganisation and restructuring programme.
The CWU does not oppose the planned changes in principle – but is demanding comprehensive retraining and redeployment options for all affected workers and is determined that no stone is left unturned to avoid compulsory redundancies.
“We’re encouraging people to take part in this campaign,” continued Andy. “It’s a campaign we can win – but we’ve all got to stick together.”
And to BT, he demanded: “Sit down and talk to the CWU.”
Sally, national officer for members working for BT Technology – who are facing a particularly acute job security crisis at the current time – will be tabling the union’s latest counter-proposals to the division’s proposed compulsory redundancies tomorrow (Thursday).
Previous CWU counter-proposals have been knocked back by the company – the union believes unreasonably – but now a major survey of members has proved beyond doubt that there are sufficient numbers prepared to take voluntary leaver packages to address the staff surpluses currently identified without recourse to compulsory redundancies.
“This can be resolved through voluntarism,” she insisted.
With the assistance and support of CWU (T&FS) executive members Ken Woolley and Peter Francis, they proudly unfurled the union’s ‘Count Me In’ banner just yards from Parliament and then walked the short distance to Trafalgar Square, where passers-by and visitors looked on with approval at the CWU’s ‘No Compulsory Redundancies’ demand.
Just time for a campaign photo on Westminster Bridge against the backdrop of the Thames and the London Eye and then ‘due north’ to the iconic ‘BT Tower’ – our capital’s highest landmark from its completion in 1964 until the 1980s.
Originally the ‘Post Office Tower’, back in the days when BT, Royal Mail and the Post Office were all one organisation, this landmark was actually open to the public until 1981.
As well as its core purpose as a nationwide communications hub, the tower also boasted a world-famous ‘revolving restaurant’, where many social and charity events also took place, and it was hugely popular with Londoners and visitors alike.
But, following several incidents, protests and even a terrorist attack, a decision was made to focus the tower solely on its ‘day-job’ and it has continued to be of crucial importance to the UK, employing many highly skilled BT Technology engineers.
And standing outside the Fitzrovia icon, Andy and Sally paid tribute to their work – noting that these workers, alongside so many others, had gone above and beyond the call of duty during the 2020 Covid crisis.
“BT Tower’s a very important building,” commented Sally, adding: “We’ve got workers who’ve been working through Covid – keeping the country connected. And for some of them, their jobs are now at risk.”
“The people behind us in that building are crucial,” agreed Andy, and called on the whole union to rally round and support all those currently at risk of being made compulsorily redundant.
“Please share this video – share it around your colleagues. Make everyone aware. And remember, even if you’re not with BT Technology, even if it’s not your job at risk today – it could be you tomorrow.
“I’m asking everyone to get involved in this fight, support the union’s ‘Count Me In’ campaign and, together, we’ll get BT to change their ways.”
CWU head of comms Chris Webb – who had been both filming and interviewing Andy and Sally – echoed their ‘spread the word’ message, saying: “There have already been some 8,500 views of this video so far – let’s get as many of our members as possible to watch and to join the fight.
“The CWU is now back out and about and on the streets – and one thing this union does know how to do is to campaign.
“Please support your union and thank you very much to everyone for watching.”
- To watch the Facebook broadcast, please click here