Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/596/8211
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.
- No more money from the CWU to Labour.
- Nationalise BT.
- Defend workers' conditions!
In The Socialist 7 October 2009:
War and occupation
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis