BT strike hailed a success by union

The first strike BT has faced for 13 years has been a success according to a spokesman for the Communication Workers Union (CWU) Monday.

Ninety percent of CWU members did not turn up for work at BT's 150 and 151 call centres this morning in protest over "oppressive" and "intimidating" working conditions. In response to the strike, BT has agreed to farther talks with the CWU later this week a spokesman for the union said.

The union is calling on BT to put agency staff on permanent contracts and lift certain performance measures like call-handling time. "People are given a maximum of 285 seconds per call which is often not long enough. If they don't meet performance targets they are threatened with the sack," a CWU spokesman said.

BT claims it is working on improving conditions in its call centres, employing 1,800 new staff and giving agency staff permanent contracts. The CWU does not think this goes far enough. "There is still a certain percentage, 22 percent in 150 centres and 50 percent in 151 centres, that are on temporary contracts," a spokesman said.