BT dispute: attacks when times are tough, and when they're good

Submitted by Matthew on 10 June, 2010 - 10:14 Author: Ira Berkovic

British Telecom workers are holding strong as they build towards their first strike in nearly 25 years, despite attempts by management to undermine them.

BT bosses put a new offer on the table at the last minute and, despite the offer including no substantial improvements on their previous proposal, they launched a vigorous press campaign trumpeting the “improved pay offer” they had extended to BT workers.

CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said “BT’s revised offer remains materially unchanged for this year in terms of pay. As we’ve made clear, two per cent is unacceptable for our members as it does not reflect the reward they expect given the contribution they have made to cost savings of £1.75 billion and profits of over £1bn.”

Several top BT bosses earn over £1m per year (plus bonuses), and many have had pay increases of up to 80% due to the company's huge profits. It doesn't take a revolutionary anti-capitalist analysis to see the glaring injustice in a situation in which a profit-making company whose bosses pay themselves such obscene figures is attempting to keep the wages of its workers so low.

The CWU has already been rather more acquiescent that socialists within the union might like, and its press release proudly proclaims the £1.75bn savings it “helped” the company make by persuading its members to accept pay freezes, changes to their pension schemes and 30,000 job losses.

The situation now, in which management is still intransigent on pay, should be a lesson to everyone in the trade union movement; helping bosses make cuts when times are hard is not going to make them any more inclined to treat us well when profits go up. Our starting point should always be to fight for decent pay and conditions for workers, regardless of whether or not the bosses have managed to keep the books in the black.

The CWU have set management a deadline of midday on Friday 11 June to improve their offer. If BT bosses fail to do so, workers will be balloted for action.

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