ACTION GETS results. That's the conclusion after the first national strike action in BT for 13 years looks to have forced the company to retreat. Britain's most profitable company had been ignoring complaints from workers in its call centres over their conditions. So 4,000 call centre workers staged a one day strike last month. A second strike was called off by the CWU union after a deal was struck.
Details are still sketchy, but the company looks to have made concessions. BT says it will reduce the proportion of agency staff in its call centres which deal with faults and other customer services reported on the 150 and 151 numbers. The firm now says it will aim for 80 to 90 percent of the workers being full time BT staff by the spring. Workers complained that the individual target times for handling calls resulted in stress and gave a green light to bullying managers. BT now says it will move towards 'team' rather than individual targets.
Meredith Clark, treasurer of the CWU's Leicester and Northants Clerical branch, told Socialist Worker, 'If they stick to what they are saying, it's what we wanted.' But she rightly added, 'It's a question of us policing the deal and making sure they keep to it.' The lesson drawn from the BT dispute is that action builds the union and wins improvements at work.