We’re not going back to the bad old days, EE members warn

Telecoms & Financial Services, EE

Thousands of EE members have pledged they won’t accept workplace advances secured since union recognition was won being put into reverse by bosses who seem intent on turning back the clock to the bad old days of management by diktat.

The resounding message of defiance was delivered in a special Facebook Live session for EE members that was watched live by more than 2,500 across the union’s social media channels on Tuesday evening, and has since received thousands more catch-up views on Facebook alone.

Visceral outpourings of anger over EE’s current trajectory on social media both during and after the broadcast come at a pivotal moment for the CWU’s Count Me In campaign of resistance against an unprecedented assault on terms & conditions and job security across the whole of BT Group.

With last ditch talks currently underway in a final push by the union to establish whether the company has any interest whatsoever in seeking to avert the BT-wide industrial action ballot that the CWU is already committed to set in motion unless meaningful movement by management is secured imminently, the message from EE employees could not be clearer.

“No-one wants to strike – but there are times when you simply can’t afford NOT to!” was the recurring theme of hundreds of comments posted during the Facebook Live session – with EE members venting their particular dismay at the company’s decision to impose a £1,000 unconsolidated ‘bung’ rather than engage with the union in proper negotiations for a cost of living pay rise.

“It’s time to draw a line in the sand and show Mr Jansen we won’t be bribed,” raged one member, responding to the fact that, after last year’s first ever negotiated pay settlement in EE, the company appears determined to revert to ideologically motivated non-engagement with the union.

“When we stand together we will triumph,” he continued – with others observing that, if EE is allowed to turn back the clock to its pre-recognition track record of unilateral management edicts, the future looks bleak indeed.

“If it comes to an industrial action ballot it has to be a ‘Yes’ vote,” insisted one member. “If not, it will give the company the green light to bring in things you wouldn’t believe,” she warned.

That message was repeated loud and clear by the union’s EE National Team members on the Facebook Live panel.

“When the ballot papers arrive it’s vitally important that people vote and vote ‘Yes’” stressed Gemma Hughes of South Wales branch.  “We have to stand together and use our voice because if we don’t we will lose that voice.

“We’ve shown we can stand together – we got recognition in EE and then we had our pay negotiated by the union. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. This is our opportunity to show EE that we do not accept the way they’re treating us.”

Mel Wilson of Tyne & Wear Clerical branch agreed: “We’re at the stage now where we really have no option but to stand united,” she insisted.

“This is a really unique moment for EE members – because it’s your chance to show the company that you will not stand by and watch this race to the bottom.”

CWU acting national officer for EE, Stephen Albon, hit out at reports of some local managers spreading false rumours that there could be repercussions for anyone voting ‘Yes’ in an industrial action ballot.

“Let’s be very clear – legally there’s no reason to be scared in any way, shape or form,” he stressed. “This would be lawful industrial action, and everyone is protected in law when they cast their vote and if it comes to taking action. There’s absolutely no need for any member to be afraid – indeed what I’d say is that if people don’t vote ‘Yes’ I’d be more concerned about what will happen after that!

“Of course you will get the odd rogue manager making threats – but if that happens to you speak to your local rep and we’ll challenge it.”

Repeating the theme that the worst outcome of all would be EE getting away with its attempts to turn back the clock to a time when it routinely rode roughshod over the legitimate concerns of employees, Stephen continued: “For many years things were imposed on you, you never had a say and the resulting damage was enormous. You finally got your voice with union recognition, but EE and BT clearly don’t like that.

“We simply can’t allow them to take your voice away – and that’s why it’s so important we stand together now.”

Telecoms & Financial Services Executive member Dave Tee concluded: “Clearly strike action is a last resort – it’s not something any of us wants – but at this point in time the company is forcing us further and further down the road towards holding a ballot.

“It’s brilliant to see so many members making it clear they will be voting ‘Yes’ if it comes to that. Management urgently needs to recognise that we have our members with us.”

  • View the EE members’ Facebook Live session here