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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 March 2021

Thousands of BT workers to ballot for strike action

BT office, photo Albert Bridge/CC

BT office, photo Albert Bridge/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Clive Walder, CWU Midlands No 1 branch (personal capacity)

The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) announced during a Facebook Live event on 10 March, attended by over 7,000 members, that it will shortly hold an industrial action ballot.

This is over the company's plans to reduce the number of offices from around 300 to 30, causing displaced workers to either travel large distances to work or, in effect, make themselves redundant - and to halve the current voluntary redundancy terms, and increase the likelihood of compulsory redundancies. This would be the first national action involving BT workers since 1987.

BT managers are trying to reverse the steep decline in the share price, resume paying a dividend and find 12 billion to invest in a full-fibre broadband network. They aim to do this at the expense of workers' jobs and conditions, and they have a vicious new management in place to drive this through.

Socialist Party members in the CWU welcome the calling of this industrial action ballot, but believe that this should have happened before Christmas when it was clear management was going to play hardball. The mood of the members, judging by the on-screen comments, appears to be very solid.

BT's proposals were opposed by 73% of their workers when they were 'consulted'. Workers realise that if action isn't taken many will lose its jobs and those left will have no future. BT is one of a dwindling number of companies offering comparatively well-paid jobs with a career structure, and this must be defended at all costs.

The determination of management to carry out this jobs massacre must be exceeded by the determination of the CWU leadership.

The hardline attitude of management and the heavy costs involved in modernising the network demonstrate that BT workers can only look forward to working increasingly harder for a vicious and unthankful management.

This demonstrates that BT and the rest of the telecoms industry should be taken into public ownership as is the CWU's policy.

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