The telecoms leadership of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has totally capitulated in the “Count Me In” campaign. They have let CWU members in BT and EE down massively.
The union has agreed a “framework” for future talks that (with a Kafkaesque twist) is an “agreement” to have future agreements. It has been presented as this because doing so avoids the basic demands of union democracy. The reality is they have totally given in on pay, jobs and future grading.
There is to be no ballot on this framework agreement despite BT openly calling it an agreement and the Union and BT saying because of this “agreement” the industrial action ballot threatened in the Count Me In campaign will not now be held.
Several telecom branches have complained to union HQ that this breaches union rules which say members must be consulted on any agreement about significant changes to terms and conditions. The complaints have been rejected by the leadership because the framework is only to allow for further negotiations which will (apparently) be balloted on.
But the “agreement” that is not an agreement means we have acccepted the status quo, notably on no proper pay rise this year and redundancies. Lead negotiator and CWU Deputy General Secretary for the telecoms sector Andy Kerr has explicitly said in briefings for branch representatives that the agreement to talk means they are accepting there will be no consolidated pay rise this year - just the bung already paid without agreement- and accepting that redundancies are to be minimised rather than opposed.
Andy Kerr who is a left winger on the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) and will stand up for Party democracy there, won’t apply the same principles to his day job. No wonder that members in Openreach, one of the divisions facing swingeing job cuts, are saying “Count Kerr Out”.