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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 April 2021

CWU BT ballot - time for action now!

BT office, photo Albert Bridge/CC

BT office, photo Albert Bridge/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party members in CWU

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has announced the intention to hold a ballot for industrial action, the aim being to use a massive 'yes' vote as leverage to defend jobs and worksites across all BT Groups.

Well-attended virtual meetings have seen the CWU negotiating team and members of the telecoms and financial services section explain to members the issues involved and why the union needs a huge yes vote.

The problem for the union is that, increasingly, members want to know when the ballot will take place. They say quite rightly that they've heard the rationale to support the union across all media platforms, they now wish to know when that will be.

For their part, the telecoms and financial services section quite rightly wants to take time getting the membership list as accurate as possible to reduce the excuses for a BT legal challenge under the anti-union laws. The problem is they've taken so long doing this that members in WhatsApp groups are reporting that managers are raising their heads and, along with spreading misinformation, are sending individual messages to young engineers warning that to vote for a strike will breach contract and they can be sacked. Others are reporting that the drawn-out process of the CWU has led to managers putting pressure on members affected by site closures to accept voluntary release in advance of any ballot.

In short, CWU procrastination is allowing BT management the chance to dominate the narrative. On social media the telecoms and financial services section say they have imaginative alternatives that they would like to propose in negotiations. A small but growing section of members are responding with a definite silence to this as it hardly inspires confidence given the issues at stake.

That said, the overwhelming mood at the moment is to support the CWU and vote yes for strike action. Instinctively, members understand that without the union, management would have free rein across all workplaces and BT groups. It is clear that the new BT senior management and board are in no mood to offer concessions. BT management appears to simply want to smash the CWU.

To build on the existing momentum that has been built across all BT groups by the union, it is absolutely essential that the CWU telecoms and financial services section announces a timetable for an industrial action ballot. Any further delay risks a growing sense of disillusionment setting in.

Announce a timetable! Vote 'yes' for industrial action! No job losses, no cuts in work locations!

Scotland No2 CWU branch secretary and Socialist Party Scotland member Gary Clark has been unanimously nominated by his branch as a candidate for the CWU national executive and postal executive in upcoming elections.

Gary says: "I will be standing as a clear socialist and on a fighting programme on behalf of the membership, I will only take the average wage of a postal worker and will put the rest back into the movement."

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