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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 October 2009

Fighting against outsourcing, defending working conditions at British Telecom

Twice in the past five months, BT Communication Workers Union (CWU) members have rejected proposals by the company to introduce new working arrangements that undermine previously negotiated attendance arrangements. The proposals would have led to the majority of members having to work Saturdays for the first time, an introduction of late working, and to be available to work from any location in Britain.

Gary Jones, CWU national executive council, personal capacity

Whilst members are happy to embrace change, the proposals were clearly a move too far. The CWU executive however supported the changes and recommended a 'yes' vote.

Socialist Party and broad left CWU members campaigned against these proposals and the membership rejected the executive's recommendation and voted 'no'.

BT chose to ignore the outcome of the ballot and have attempted to sideline the union by approaching the workforce directly. This is a provocative move that shows their complete contempt for the union and its members' views.

And to put further pressure on workers to make a pledge to change their attendance patterns, BT has announced it is making final preparations to TUPE [transfer] out of the company a large section of workers.

The real irony of the situation is that management could have achieved changes to attendance patterns voluntarily by proposing an agreement along those lines to the union during the negotiations.

Not good enough for our members

If the CWU leadership were in touch with the membership it would have said: "Sorry BT, your final proposals are not good enough for our members, and we will show you that by recommending that our members vote against your proposed attendance pattern changes in a CWU ballot".

The rally call would have been set; we would have been in a stronger position at that stage to achieve a massive 'no' vote in our ballot, with the whole membership united against the current attendance pattern proposals and the real threat of TUPE to BT jobs.

There is a crucial need now to replace the majority of the current executive with people willing to listen to members and give them a lead in defending their jobs.

The unity of the membership must now come first, by the union acting on its current policies.

Any attempt by BT to impose unagreed attendance pattern changes, break-up BT by TUPE/outsourcing, or declare compulsory redundancies must be met with a ballot for industrial action.

We must demand that the telecommunications industry is placed into public ownership to stop this false competition of the marketplace that has only a detrimental effect on workers' terms and conditions of employment.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 7 October 2009:

Needed a party for workers, not bosses


War and occupation

Afghanistan stop the war

Afghanistan - Bring the troops home now


Youth fight for jobs

Youth Fight for Jobs

University accommodation scandal: Students must defend rights

University freshers fairs: Students seek out socialism


Socialist Party news and analysis

Wirral anti-cuts victory: 'If you fight, you can win'

Young parents need support, not attacks

Fight for a living wage

Not to Darling's pay freeze

Fast news

Campaign forces health Trust to save Crowlin House


Workplace news and analysis

An autumn of discontent in South Yorkshire

Leeds council calls for talks with unions

Fighting against outsourcing, defending working conditions at British Telecom

NUT vice president: Elect Martin Powell-Davies

Cambridge post workers strike

North Wales shop stewards network


Socialist Party feature

Social care in crisis


International socialist news and analysis

Ireland: Lisbon Treaty vote is not an endorsement for hated government

Portugal: Voters turn to the left

Foreign aid - chaining the world to capitalism

Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold

I speak Fula by Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba


 

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