Saturday, May 24, 2008



Here's one from the "auld sod". This appeal from the online labour solidarity site Labour Start about the struggle of workers in Ireland to organize and have their union recognized by British Telecom.

Ireland: BT Discriminates Against own staff because they are Irish

The Communications Workers' Union (CWU) in the Republic of Ireland is organising an email campaign to highlight the fact that British Telecom is discriminating against its own staff because they are Irish by refusing them the right to collective bargaining which their staff in Northern Ireland enjoy. The CWU has been trying, for some time now, to collectively represent its members working in British Telecom. To date the company has refused to recognise the union as the representative body for the staff in the Republic of Ireland but will recognise the CWU in Northern Ireland which is, in effect, a form of discrimination against one group of staff simply because they are Irish. In recent years British Telecom announced that it had taken a strategic business decision to run its operations in Northern Ireland and the Republic as one unified business and would, in effect, function on the island of Ireland as a single entity. Consequently the staff in its Republic of Ireland units who are members of the CWU sought to have the Union represent them collectively in the same way as their colleagues are represented by the CWU in Northern Ireland. They were, as they saw it, seeking equal treatment, in line with their Northern colleagues. British Telecom has so far refused to recognise the CWU and, despite the Union's efforts, the Irish management team have refused to even meet with any Union officials to discuss this issue.

To read more and send the following letter of protest to British Telecom go to the link HERE.
Dear Mr Clark,
I am writing to you to express my disappointment at British Telecom and the way the company is discriminating against its staff in the Republic of Ireland. Your staff in Northern Ireland enjoy the full benefit of collective union representation but you consistently refuse to treat the staff in the Republic of Ireland equally by recognising the Communications Workers Union (CWU) for collective bargaining purposes.

As the CEO of a Company that operates on an all island basis I fail to understand how you can justify the double standard you apply to your staff. As a business man you would not accept this kind of discrimination in the market place. Yet you appear to expect your staff and customers to accept that, as a single business entity on this island British Telecom will treat its staff in the Republic like second class citizens. This kind of discrimination is inexplicable and does nothing to enhance the British Telecom brand as representative of a dynamic and innovative company at the cutting edge of modern telecommunications.

In response to correspondence from the CWU you have stated that you prefer to deal with your staff directly via an internal company forum – BT Voices. However this is nothing more than a tried and tested union avoidance mechanism that, regardless of your claims that it is robust and fair, lacks the essential element of independence that is the hall mark of genuine collective bargaining. By denying its staff their legitimate request for access to fair and independent collective bargaining British Telecom is denying its staff a fundamental human right as set out in the ILO ‘Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work’ and ILO Convention 98.

It is disappointing that a major multinational like British Telecom would treat its staff in this way. But it is nothing short of shameful that it does so on the basis that the staff being denied equal rights are being treated this way because they are Irish.

I call upon you to rectify this situation, take sensible and appropriate action to end this unsavoury treatment of your Irish staff and engage without delay in meaningful talks with the CWU with a view to concluding a recognition agreement that will provide for collective bargaining between both parties and ensure equal treatment for your staff on the island of Ireland.
Yours sincerely,

1 comment:

James Cleverley said...


Just came across your blog. That's quite a worrying little predicament the Irish BT employees have found themselves in. I hope that enough people send in letters of protest so that BT will get the message.