Workers to BT: Get Serious in Negotiations or Face Industrial Action

In December, CWU members in BT Group overwhelmingly rejected the company's plans for mass redundancies. Now they have a message: start real negotiations soon, or we ballot for industrial action.

In December, the CWU announced a thumping yes vote and return in a national consultative ballot of our members in BT Group.

In a vote of around 45,000 members we achieved a 76% turnout and a huge 97% yes vote. This was a huge mandate of support for the work of our union but equally, it was a rejection of the slash and burn culture which has been adopted by management.

In the coming days and weeks, we will seek to progress negotiations with the company. This has been achieved because of the leverage given to us by the members in the ballot. My message to BT Group is very simple – either these talks get serious quickly or we will move towards an official national industrial action ballot.

This is a position the CWU and our members never wanted to be in. We have seen heroic efforts from brilliant key workers during this pandemic: our wonderful NHS, underpaid and undervalued shop workers and, of course, postal workers in our own union are just three examples.

But our members in BT Group, while not always receiving the same level of coverage, have kept the country connected and online. Without our members there would be no home working revolution, no home schooling and no Zoom quizzes (you may not thank us for that one!).

What was the reward for this loyalty and hard work from the company? A mass compulsory redundancy plan.

BT Group, like so many other companies, are using the pandemic to attack our members’ job security. This is a step too far for us. In the coming weeks we will be ramping up our Count Me In campaign. We will, of course be mobilising our members but we will also be seeking the support of the public and politicians. Our members have been there for you and now they need you to be there for them.

If we are unable to reach an agreement or achieve a major breakthrough in the coming weeks then an industrial action ballot and the first national strike in BT Group for decades seems inevitable.

To BT – I say this is your opportunity to step back from brink. Get serious in the talks, recognise the value of our members and reach agreement with the CWU.

To the public – if you see an Openreach engineer or BT worker please offer them your support.

To politicians of all persuasions – you know our members have enabled this country to keep functioning – including your own parliamentary business – we ask you to tell BT to engage seriously with the CWU.

Finally, to our members – you have done an incredible job and continue to do so. Stand with your union and together we will win this.