THOUSANDS of BT call centre workers are set to strike on Monday. If the action goes ahead it will be the first national action in BT for 13 years. It comes after BT announced record profits last week, up by 9 percent in the last three months to a staggering £137 a second.
The strike is due to involve some 4,000 workers in 37 separate call centres across the country. The workers involved are those in the BT sections dealing with bills, faults and repairs. The strike call follows a huge 81 percent yes vote in a ballot organised by the CWU union. The workers are angry at the way they are treated, with bullying managers constantly harassing and pressuring workers.
One BT worker explained, 'People have their calls monitored and are not allowed to take longer than four minutes and 40 seconds on any one call. The pressure is immense.' The union is also demanding more permanent BT staff, as the company relies heavily on agency staff. The great danger is that CWU union leaders see the strike vote as merely a bargaining counter. They have hinted that they are keen to head off Monday's strike by cutting a deal.
BT operates a vast number of other call centres. These are not involved in the planned action and are much less unionised. The best way to unionise all these centres would be for next week's action to be effective and, if needed, followed by more hard hitting action.