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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 August 2010

CWU members accept BT pay deal

Communication Workers Union (CWU) members have accepted BT's pay offer of a 3% pay increase for each of the next three years, with this year's being paid from January instead of April. This was accepted by 24,017 votes to 3,709.

Clive Walder, CWU Birmingham, Black Country and Worcester branch, personal capacity

While this was expected, when the union leadership hailed it as a 'fantastic' deal and recommended it as enthusiastically as BT, it still represents a lost opportunity.

The New Labour CWU leadership went from saying that we shouldn't settle for a pay offer that doesn't recognise CWU members' contribution to BT's profitability, to one that accepts a pay rise that doesn't match inflation for this year and an acceptance of a 3% rise for the following two years without knowing the rate of inflation or BT's profits.

The settlement is a significant departure from BT's previous 'final' offers, achieved as a result of the likelihood of CWU members taking industrial action. If the CWU leadership had stuck to their guns and proceeded with a fresh industrial action ballot after the cancellation of the original one it is very likely that this offer would have been improved upon.

The majority of CWU members may feel at the moment that they have got a good deal because of three years of pay certainty and the belief that they have got a bigger increase than most workers.

Although at the time the CWU leaders were recommending this offer some pay settlements were topping 4% but this was generally kept out of the media. But they may not feel the same if either BT's profits or inflation increase significantly next year.

If that happens, members should be demanding that the union re-opens negotiations and claims its fair share of the profits our members produce.

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