There are vast similarities in the experiences of workers across the telecoms sector and the CWU must build and organise throughout the whole sector if we are to have any chance of defending and improving terms and conditions.
Anti union employers have been able to exploit the liberalised telecoms labour market so terms and conditions in the recognised areas are forced down – and profits kept up.Non union employers are able to keep down pay and conditions and as a result workers in unionised areas struggle to maintain their terms and conditions as employers compete for profits. This has resulted in worse job security, pay, training, sick leave and pensions and greater casualization. Employers in telecoms firms where there is currently no union recognition show fierce resistance to attempts at union organising often using tactics imported from US union busters.
The Greater London Combined branch actively organise in BskyB and we have seen a steady increase in membership particularly amongst engineers . We also organise in Virgin Media despite the derecognition of the union just before the company was sold to Liberty Global. Liberty Global have a fiercely anti – union reputation in the US. Members rightly feared for their futures and terms and conditions when derecognition was brought in and are already under attack; there has been a marked increase in staff being disciplined on performance grounds and planners have been forced to relocate on a large scale. We have also seen union supporting staff forced out – in one case actually sacked for talking to the Union.