BT Pay Campaign 2010

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High Noon Looms on BT Pay

3 June 2010

Branch representatives from across the country met at CWU Head Office on Thursday 3 June 2010, to discuss the union's response should BT not show an 11th hour willingness to reconsider its position.

BT has been warned that unless they come up with a new offer on pay by 12 noon Friday 4 June 2010, the union will have no option but to serve formal notice of its intention to ballot all appropriate members for industrial action.

BT Executives' "fat cat" Behaviour

The union's position, unanimously ratified by delegates at CWU Annual Conference in Bournemouth on 26 May 2010, reflects mounting anger at the company's refusal to budge on a 2% pay offer for CWU grades at a time when the company's financial state is rosy and top-level directors are awarding themselves massive bonuses.

There was general disbelief that the company appears intent on pushing through an effective pay cut for employees at the very same time when directors are rewarding themselves handsomely for the company's turnaround. Members deserve a pay offer that "reflects the contribution made by CWU members" to the company's remarkable ongoing financial recovery.

At the Head Office meeting rep after rep told how news of the bonus bonanza had galvanised members into support of the CWU's campaign for a decent pay rise - with many workers now impatient for the ballot to commence. Reps were united in the view that BT had scored a spectacular "own goal" with their "fat cat" behaviour.

Andy Kerr, DGS (T), introduces the Emergency Motion on BT Pay at the T&FSE Conference 2010

Andy Kerr, DGS (T), introduces the Emergency Motion on BT Pay at the T&FSE Conference 2010

In his address to Conference Andy Kerr, CWU Deputy General Secretary (telecoms), outlined the reasons why, as things stand, the CWU has no option but to ballot. The details of the extraordinary surge in Boardroom pay had been published just moments before Andy took to the rostrum, the DGS(T) could not contain his anger at the double standards being displayed by BT.

"I don't mind senior executives of a BT company making vast amounts of money because it is a very successful company. What I expect, however, is my members getting a fair share of those profits at the same time."

Against a backdrop of year end pre-tax profits of over 1billion - up from a loss of 244 million the previous year, Andy stressed that:

"Senior executives are receiving very generous awards for hitting business targets that you have been instrumental in delivering."

BT Claims "Shaky"

BT attempted to justify its position on both managerial pay and the offer for CWU grades in a way that has posed more questions than answers.

Commenting on the revelation that Ian Livingston has pledged to take just a 2 per cent pay rise and give the rest to charity, Andy Kerr observed:

"We have yet to clarify whether he is simply making a donation out of his pay rise, in which case the 6 per cent will still go on his basic pay and would flow through to his pension and to next year's salary."

On the issue of pay for CWU grades, the company made several claims which have been dismissed as a "classic smoke and mirrors trick" by the union's negotiating team.

One of the justifications given by BT for the below-inflation pay offer was that the annual salary progression review in October will have already raised the wages of some. Even more extraordinarily, the company has attempted to persuade employees that the offer on the table is actually worth 5.4 per cent to the lowest paid workers - failing to mention that there are only seven individuals in the relevant grade!

But that even that claim was shaky. That's because it is dependent on the as-yet uncertain second non-consolidated payment being made - but even if it was it would still only mean 2% on base pay.

Referring to the October salary progressions, Andy pointed out:

"This is a contractual right and reflects an individual's progression within a role. It is NOT part of the annual pay review, which is about keeping your pay in line with the rise in the cost of living and rewarding all employees for your contribution to the business."

Andy concluded:

"Looking at pay and bonuses together also emphasises the huge disparity between staff and executive pay, with Ian Livingston's combined pay and bonus package going up by 79 per cent and Gavin Patterson's up 62.3 per cent - and even that does not include the huge sums in shares they will also receive.

"The CWU's claim of 5% is reasonable and realistic. It is not significantly above the rise in the cost of living, which was 4.4% in the year to March. A 5% increase on the pay of CWU represented grades would cost BT around 68.5m, or 3.6% of free cash flow."

"The CWU has offered to meet with BT at any time to resolve the current situation, but we have made it clear that this would have to be on the basis that BT are willing to revise their final pay offer."