CWU ballot on after BT contempt for staff

The Communication Workers Union is today (Thursday) pressing ahead with a nationwide industrial action ballot after five hours of talks yesterday with BT broke down. CWU has made it clear that only a significant improvement on the original pay offer of 2 per cent for 2010 will bring this dispute to a close but BT has refused to budge despite soaring profits, huge bonuses for senior executives and a 6 per cent payout for shareholders.

The CWU has issued notice to BT that ballot papers will be sent out on Friday 18th June. The result will be announced on 5th July.

Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Things have undoubtedly got worse since our meeting with BT yesterday. The company is now showing complete contempt for staff and for the reasonable pay rise we are seeking for our members in the company.

“BT’s revised offer failed to make any material improvement in pay for 2010 which we have made crystal clear is the key to resolving this dispute. While we are happy to consider a two-year deal, there must be an improvement in pay for this year.

“BT has been misleading in the way it has presented other elements of the revised offer. For example, the union has always worked with BT to avoid compulsory redundancies so the inclusion of this in any deal appears to be more of a threat than an offer. Also, in regard to repatriating work from India, we have been in a separate set of negotiations with the company for over a year regarding resourcing arrangements for this so it is disingenuous to claim this is a new offer.

“If BT is willing to make a genuine improved offer we will of course meet them to try to find an end to this dispute. In the meantime we have no option than to press ahead with balloting our members for strike action. Our members are amazed at the aggressive attitude of the company and the contempt with which they are being treated. The victimisation of many of our members and reps – which has included direct communications from the company threatening that staff will get a pay freeze if they take industrial action – is adding to the anger and outrage at blatant double standards when it comes to remuneration for those at the top of the company. We want a fair and affordable rise and we will not stop until BT understands this.”

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