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SCOTTISH TUC 2020 convenes against the backdrop of the most difficult year many of us have ever seen, in Scotland and right across the UK.
However, it has been the working class who have stepped up and endured the most of these challenges — continuing to tend to the sick and vulnerable, to maintain our nation’s utilities and infrastructure, to provide food, to educate our young and to care for all.
Members of our union, the CWU, have proudly taken their place among the UK’s army of essential, key workers — our fantastic Royal Mail members keeping our people posted and our superb BT members keeping our country connected.
And the people of our nation have been incredibly supportive and appreciative of our members as well as all key workers.
Nevertheless, unbelievably, the senior management of BT have decided that this is the time to pick a fight with their BT employees.
They’ve decided that now is the time to start throwing their own workers out of their jobs.
BT management have decided that their own hard-working employees should be made compulsorily redundant and that their work should be outsourced overseas.
They want to get rid of workers here in the UK and give their jobs to low-paid and non-unionised cheap labour in India.
It’s a total disgrace — and our union will not stand back and let it happen.
BT Group’s plans to implement compulsory redundancies will have a devastating impact on our members and the local communities they serve.
Many CWU members are key workers and have kept Scotland connected during the pandemic — this move is a kick in the teeth for them.
The CWU is fighting against these changes and we call on the public and politicians to support us.
BT Group may say their plans are not widespread but the reality is their approach is one of death by a thousand cuts.
No member is safe. No job is safe. Support our members working in BT who are key workers in your community as they fight to protect not only their jobs but the service they provide to you.
Post-Covid our economy will require investment and jobs, and the telecommunications sector and high-speed connectivity will be crucial.
BT should be investing not only in new technology but also in training to provide high-skilled well-paid secure employment.
Rather than a slash-and-burn approach to maximise short-term profit, a longer-term strategy needs to be developed and encouraged by both the Scottish and Westminster governments.
That’s why the CWU launched our Count Me In campaign and that’s why the CWU is currently balloting our 40,000-plus members who work for BT Group.
So far, we’ve held two days of action — on October 1 and again more recently on November 5 — and on each occasion we’ve seen growing levels of participation from our own members, who are angry and determined to stand up against this management offensive.
Every branch from every region took part and the message was crystal clear — BT will not get away with this attack and we will stand together in this struggle.
Despite the Covid restrictions, we have mobilised and will continue to build up our fight.
We’re building up for a big Yes vote in our national ballot and, if the company refuses to listen to the voice of its workforce, a national strike will become unavoidable.
As well as the magnificent response for our own membership, we’ve also been delighted by the solidarity we’ve received from our sisters and brothers right across this great movement of ours.
At STUC, we are looking forward to talking to and debating these issues with our comrades in other trade unions.
We must unite behind all our struggles, fight together for jobs, for job security and seize this moment to move our whole agenda of workers’ rights forward in our society and the world of work.
Craig Anderson is CWU Scotland regional secretary.
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