Friday 28th August 2020
Unprecedented numbers of members from across all parts of BT Group have been taking to social media to demonstrate their support for the union’s ‘Count Me In’ campaign.
Hot on the heels of last Thursday’s National Day of Support for BT Technology Workers – during which thousands went online to express their outrage at the way in which the division is pressing ahead with compulsory redundancies despite rock solid evidence provided by the CWU that the 187 sought for job cuts could be achieved voluntarily – on Monday it was the turn of members across the North West to make their feelings plain.
Throughout the day the union made its presence felt outside BT and Openreach workplaces across the region to highlight the importance of the ‘Count Me In’ fightback against the disputed compulsory redundancy situations presently unfolding in the Enterprise and Technology divisions.
Also under the spotlight during the regional day of campaigning were simmering disagreements over breaches of long-standing grading protocols across different parts of BT; attacks on career progression opportunities in Consumer; an increasing Group-wide disregard for long-standing national agreements with the CWU and the full-frontal assault on desk-based workers in Openreach – as well as wider worries about longer-term job security associated with the Better Workplace site rationalisation programme.
During the course of the day, Greater Mersey Branch representatives visited BT Group workplaces in Birkenhead, Huyton, Southport, Stockton Heath, Padgate, Skelmersdale, Magul, Marshalls Cross, Huyton, Aintree, Ormskirk, Bressington Park and Widnes – handing out ‘Count Me In’ snoods, car stickers, badges and leaflets.
Simultaneously Manchester Combined Branch was out and about visiting Stockport Telephone Engineering Centre, East Manchester TEC and members who are currently homeworking across Manchester
Lancs & Cumbria Branch, meanwhile, visited BT sites in Barrow in Furness, Grange-Over-Sands, Ulverston, Carlisle and Blackburn, handing out Count Me In branded mugs and hand sanitiser to members.
At all these sites pictures were taken with members holding ‘Count Me In’ placards – while people working from home and even a number who were away on holiday sent pictures and messages of support to their branches.
As well as hundreds of such photos and messages being posted on the union’s, national, regional and branch social media platforms, a number of reps and regional Executive members uploaded videos explaining the importance of the day’s campaigning.
In an impressive show of solidarity, many postal branches in the region supported the day by arranging for photos to be taken of their reps and members in workplaces supporting the Count Me In campaign and their BT comrades, again sharing them on various social media sites. Some branches even produced videos supporting the day.
CWU North West regional secretary Carl Webb said: “The time was right for us to take the campaign on the road so that we could raise the level of engagement with our members.
“One thing that was clear is our members are angry at BT and want the union to take a strong stand against them. Over the day branches visited over 20 sites and spoke to loads of homeworkers. We were pleased to see that the vast majority of people we spoke to were aware of the campaign.
“Ultimately my message to our members is that the only way to force BT round the negotiating table is by actively supporting the Count Me In campaign and your union – and with that in mind we have already pencilled in our next regional campaign day. It would be remiss of me not to thank the Postal Branches and members who gave such fantastic backing, as well as MPs including Navendu Mishra (Lab, Stockport) who posted a photo and message of support online to express his support and Labour deputy leader Angela Raynor who retweeted the union’s ‘Count Me In’ message.”
Acting CWU national officer for BT Consumer, Stephen Albon agrees: “The aim was to flood our social media with pictures and videos and we achieved just that. It was fantastic to see so many people getting actively involved in the campaign – and there’s no doubt that the message is going to get spread even further by the members we met on the day.
“One of the most encouraging things of all was the number of members we spoke to who’ve agreed to become CWU ‘points of contact’ for the campaign, and we’ve already arranged a special Zoom meeting with all these volunteers next Wednesday evening (6:30pm on September 2) to discuss the ways they can help raise awareness of the importance of ‘Count Me In’amongst their immediate colleagues. I’d urge any other North West members who’d like to get involved to contact their local branch, which will then forward them details of the Zoom meeting.”
Stephen concludes: “Members across the region should watch out for our next regional ‘Count Me in’ campaign day which will take place on Monday September 7.”
Busy week online…
Monday’s campaigning in the North West was followed up by at mass Zoom meeting of members in BT Technology on Zoom on Tuesday evening, with hundreds of members logging in for an update on the compulsory redundancy situation in that division.
The very next morning the ‘Count Me’ In campaign was making waves online again ,with more than 8,500 viewers tuning in live to a Facebook Live session highlighting the union’s determination to publicly fight for members despite the limitations of posed by Covid-19 and the need for careful social distancing.
Starting at the very heart of our nation’s Government, in Parliament Square, CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr and the union’s national officer for Technology Sally Bridge proudly unfurled the union’s ‘Count Me In’ banner and then walked the short distance to Trafalgar Square, where passers-by and visitors looked on with approval at the CWU’s ‘No Compulsory Redundancies’ demand.
Assisted by CWU T&FS executive members Ken Woolley and Peter Francis, they then embarked on a tour of central London landmarks, pausing for a campaign photo on Westminster Bridge against the backdrop of the Thames and the London Eye before heading ‘due north’ to the iconic ‘BT Tower’.
To watch the Facebook broadcast, please click here