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BT UK Broadband and Phone Services Given Reprieve from CWU Strike Ballot

Posted: 06th Jul, 2010 By: MarkJ
btThe Communication Workers Union (CWU) has been forced to cancel the notice for their industrial action ballot against BT after the UK telecoms operator threatened legal action over technical breaches, which could potentially have invalidated the ballot.

The move has given BT some additional breathing space before a strike is called, which threatened to disrupt and delay the operators crucial £2.5bn roll-out of next generation superfast fibre optic broadband services around the country.

Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said:

"We're bitterly disappointed that this ballot has had to be cancelled. It's devastating for our members and for trade union rights in the UK and of course it doesn't help to resolve the outstanding issues over pay which we have with BT.

The legal technicalities on which this ballot has been cancelled again raise questions over the right to strike and the extremely restrictive trade union laws that exist in the UK. The law, in our view, appears to be outdated when it comes to the provision of information.

We will take all necessary steps to allow us to re-ballot our members as soon as is practically possible. In the meantime we will also be taking up an offer from BT for a meeting to see if there is a way to resolve this dispute without the need for industrial action."

Despite the obvious problems of seeking to strike during a time of economic crisis, the CWU has said that, if negotiations are unsuccessful, it will take all necessary steps to allow a re-ballot as soon as practically possible.

There have been widespread fears that a strike could cause problems for BT's phone and broadband services across the country, including disruption to vital engineer work. BT claims that it has contingency plans in place, which appear to include using non-unionised higher level staff to cover the most essential work.

A serious strike could also result in customers switching to a different provider and further reducing the firm's profits, which could put jobs at risk.
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