You can’t airbrush the truth, CWU tells BT, as crass attempt to silence pay dissent in Birmingham backfires

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

BT Group’s desperation to hide the strength of the CWU’s fightback against the imposition of  real-term pay cuts by a company that has just declared profits of £1.3 billion was plain for all to see at Birmingham’s NEC this morning.

Just hours after the union served formal legal notice of a company-wide ballot for industrial action that will commence next Wednesday  (June 15), CWU activists were out in force to leaflet managers and colleagues arriving  BT Consumer’s latest glitzy ‘Consumer Live’ event .

No expense spared gatherings of that ilk purport to give credit to those contributing towards the demonstrable ongoing success of a division that hasn’t just survived Covid, but positively thrived.

Yet CWU efforts to engage attendees in a friendly dialogue, highlighting the irony of large sums being spent on allegedly ‘morale boosting’ gatherings when those who generate the profits are suffering an unprecedented cost of living crisis, were met with a very public display of company contempt.

Clearly rattled by the gathering momentum of the CWU’s industrial action campaign, the  heavy-handed security presence that had been deployed in a vain attempt to render polite CWU leafletters ‘invisible’ – moving them on and even snatching leaflets out of their hands – spoke volumes about the moral vacuum that BT’s top brass is currently inhabiting.

“We seem to be being watched by security from every direction,” joked CWU national officer Stephen Albon, having withdrawn from the fray to participate in a special CWU Live broadcast from the scene.

“I want to make it clear to any members who’d been invited to the event this morning that we recognise they deserve to be rewarded for what they have done,” he stressed, “but the CWU sees ‘reward’ as not just a pat on the back but as a cost of living pay rise.”

Stephen was speaking  just  hours after around 5,000 BT members – far more than the combined managerial and team member guest list for this morning’s Consumer Live event – tuned in live to a CWU online mass meeting to discuss the deepening pay dispute.

Already viewed on catch-up by many thousands more, CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr and union president Karen Rose comprehensively nailed the lie being perpetuated by bosses that BT cannot afford to pay a rise that even comes close to compensating for the rising cost of living.

“This isn’t a company on its uppers,” stressed Andy. “It’s just made a £1.3 billion profit and will make even bigger profits next year and the year after that!”

And responding to reports that some senior managers are already briefing that strike action would be futile because the company will never budge, Andy was withering. “They would say that, wouldn’t they!” he wryly observed.

“The fact is that if we all stick together they will HAVE to move because, let’s make no bones about this, the company cannot survive without its workers. You are the people who made the £1.3 billion so, in effect you are the people who give the likes of Philip Jansen between two and three million pounds a year!

“Ultimately you are the ones who pay these guys’ over-inflated wages – so for them to come back and say BT they can’t afford to give you a fair cost of living rise is a pure and utter lie.”

  • Watch last night’s CWU Live for members in BT Consumer, BT Enterprise, BT Global, Digital Networks, Supply Chain and BT’s Corporate and Group divisions here
  • Tonight (Thursday) a special online Q&A session for members in Openreach will start at 7pm on Facebook and Youtube