TODAY’S big industrial news that the CWU is announcing a nationwide ballot in the first stage towards a potential national strike may not at first come as a surprise to you.
Our union has, after all, held three national strike ballots in the past three years – the last two in just the past 12 months.
But those were disputes with Royal Mail.
What’s different this time is that we’re balloting our 40,000-plus members who work for BT and Openreach – companies with whom we’ve previously had very good industrial relations.
The CWU has, in fact, never held a national strike of our BT membership. You have to go back to the late 1980s, back to the days of the Thatcher government, when British Telecom workers belonged to what was then the NCU, for the last national strike in this company.
For the past three or more decades in this sector, the company and the union have worked together to implement the many changes that have been necessary over this period, during which the hard work of our members has made today’s BT one of the UK’s big success stories.
And during this terrible pandemic, it’s been BT workers who have put in the extra effort to serve communities everywhere, keeping our country connected.
But yet it is at this time when BT management have chosen to abruptly turn on their workforce, introducing compulsory redundancies for the first time, getting rid of people who’ve loyally served this company and this nation for many years – and outsourcing their work overseas.
BT management have abruptly decided to attack longstanding terms and conditions of employment, and force through closures of sites in their consolidation programme – all without the agreement of the CWU.
That’s why today has seen protest activity in every corner of the UK by the CWU’s BT members — fully supported by their Royal Mail colleagues — angered at their treatment by this company.
All our members want to continue serving their communities and providing them with vital services.
But we will not allow BT management to take away basic security of employment and essential rights at work.
Today’s consultative ballot announcement means that we will now consult every one of our BT members asking their views on potential strike action and asking them for the biggest possible Yes vote.
And we’re asking the public to show their support for us. Please follow our protest actions today on all our social platforms.
And please contact your MP asking her or him to bring pressure to bear on the Government to stop BT outsourcing our members’ jobs.
We’re saying Count Me In. Can we Count You In too?
Dave Ward is CWU general secretary
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.