‘Push us at your peril’, BT Group warned in 97.9% consultative ballot vote on industrial action

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Thursday 10th December 2020

Members across BT, Openreach and EE have delivered the starkest possible warning to management that, if necessary, they are prepared to take industrial action in defence of job security and hard won terms and conditions.

In what is undoubtedly the most important vote involving the CWU’s entire BT Group membership since the 1987 national strike, over 74% of the CWU members balloted across BT Group participated in the poll and of them 97.9% voted ‘YES’.

The consultative ballot, which closed at noon today (Thursday) after three weeks of voting, had been initiated to allow members to register their willingness to take industrial action ahead of a formal strike ballot.

If  replicated in a statutory ballot, the overwhelming ‘YES’ vote they have delivered would comfortably pass the onerous legal thresholds that need to be met .

As such, CWU members have fired a very clear warning shot across BT’s bows that,  unless bosses change direction on their vicious programme of compulsory redundancies, site closures and attacks on pay, terms and conditions, the company is on a direct collision course with its workforce.

Responding to the result, CWU deputy general secretary (T&FS) said: For a long time BT Group has been claiming that our union does not speak for the employees and that people are happy with the direction of the company. This result shows how laughable those claims are and have always been. This moment should act as a reality check for management and it gives them one final chance to avoid a massive industrial dispute in 2021.

Captured from Live Ballot Announcement – Head of Communications Chris Webb, CWU President Karen Rose, General Secretary Dave Ward, Deputy DGS TFS Andy Kerr

“Our members – many of them key workers – have made it crystal clear today that they will not support an agenda of compulsory redundancies, site closures and a ‘race to the bottom’ on terms and conditions.

“BT Group ignores that message at its peril, and the CWU will be moving immediately to seek an urgent meeting with senior management in an attempt to  resolve this dispute and avoid disruption to the great service our members provide and customers receive.

“Even  now my message to management is that the CWU will work in complete cooperation with the company to address whatever challenges it faces – just as the union has done on numerous occasions over the decades since privatisation.

“What our members are demonstrably not prepared to accept, however, is seeing their cherished job security and Ts&Cs being attacked on multiple fronts – with longstanding colleagues  being picked off one by one, simply because a new breed of management wants to stamp its mark by making compulsory redundancies as a matter of warped principle.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward concludes:  “Our members have stood up to be counted in this ballot and I have absolute confidence they would deliver in an official ballot as well. BT Group management are acting in a disgraceful manner and this union will not stand for it.

“We are today giving management the opportunity to return to the negotiating table with a serious offer to resolve this dispute. The message from our members could not be clearer: The ball is in BT’s court.”

  • The ballot result was announced in a special CWU Facebook Live session at 1pm today, which can be viewed below: