Socialist Worker

BT workers tell bosses to raise pay or face strike

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2203

Workers at British Telecom (BT) will vote on strike action unless bosses raise a paltry 2 percent pay offer by Friday 4 June.

Furious delegates to this week’s Communication Workers Union conference unanimously agreed to ballot their 60,000 members at the firm for action. They are demanding a rise of 5 percent.

Their decision came after it was revealed that top BT boss Ian Livingston received a bonus of £1.2 million last year. That is on top of his £860,000 salary.

Another big winner was the former Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, who doubled her salary after being promoted to “executive director”. She is now paid £150,000 a year.

Union delegate Colin, who has worked for BT for 19 years, told Socialist Worker that the mood at his workplace is bitter.

“BT made profits of almost £6 billion last year. And we’re being offered peanuts while directors are raking-in cash,” he said.

“We’ve had a pay freeze for the past two-years and now they want us to accept a rise that’s less than half the rate of inflation. That’s not on.

“People at my place are always scrabbling around trying to get overtime to make ends meet. But BT has been cutting back on that, so now lots of us really struggle just to pay the bills.

“If we end up on strike, it will be for the first time since 1985. So it’s quite a bit deal for us.”

Colin describes the mood of the conference as “very determined”.

“We were really lifted when hundreds of delegates from the union’s postal conference came into our hall to cheer us on,” he said.

“As union reps, we are going to have to work hard to get a good yes vote in a ballot—and I think we can.

“Lots of people are worried about their jobs, and about losing money. But there is a lot of anger at the company we can work on. We must now go out and convince the membership that we can win.”

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Article information

Thu 27 May 2010, 12:40 BST
Issue No. 2203
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