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BT Group Workers Have Announced a Two-Day National Strike

Over 40,000 BT Group workers have announced a two-day national strike against real-terms pay cuts, as their union claim that greedy bosses have “stuck two fingers up” to key workers.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) – which represents BT Group workers – has today (Friday 15th July) served notice for strike action that will take place on Friday 29th July and Monday 1st August.

The announcement comes off a historic strike ballot, announced in late June, which saw 30,000 Openreach engineers voting for strike action by 95.8% on a 74.8% turnout.

Workers in BT, approximately 9,000 of whom work in call centres, followed suite by voting to strike by 91.5% on a 58.2% turnout.

The dispute centres on workers opposing the imposition by company management of an incredibly low flat-rate pay rise.

Earlier this year, BT offered and implemented a £1,500 per year pay increase for employees.

In the context of RPI inflation levels already hitting 11.7% this year, this is a dramatic real-terms pay cut.

It is also in the context of BT making £1.3 billion in annual profit, with CEO Philip Jansen gaining a £3.5 million pay package – a 32% wage increase – while the Big Issue and the BBC have reported instances of BT Group offices establishing food banks to assist employees.

The workers on strike look after the vast majority of Britain’s telecoms infrastructure, from mobile phone connection, broadband internet and back-up generators to national health systems, cyber security and data centres.

The strike action is also likely to have a serious effect on the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband, and may cause significant issues for those working from home.

It is the first strike action at BT Group since 1987, and the first national call centre workers strike.

CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said: “For the first time since 1987, strike action will now commence at BT Group.

“This is not a case of an employer refusing to meet a union’s demands – this is about an employer refusing to meet us whatsoever. The serious disruption this strike may cause is entirely down to Philip Jansen and his friends, who have chosen to stick two fingers up to their own workforce.

“These are the same workers who kept the country connected during the pandemic. Without CWU members in BT Group, there would have been no home-working revolution, and vital technical infrastructure may have malfunctioned or been broken when our country most needed it.

“Our members worked under great difficulty, and got a real-terms pay cut as a reward. Meanwhile, Jansen gifted himself a £3.5 million pay package – a 32% pay increase. BT’s Chief Financial Officer was handed £2.2 million – a 25% increase. This isn’t including the £700 million being paid out to shareholders.

“The reason for the strike is simple: workers will not accept a massive deterioration in their living standards.

“We won’t have bosses using Swiss banks while workers are using food banks.

“BT Group workers are saying: enough is enough. We are not going to stop until we win.”

CWU Deputy General Secretary Andy Kerr said: “Today’s decision to take strike action was not made lightly.

“From the very beginning of this dispute, we have repeatedly expressed our wishes to sit down and negotiate a pay deal that treats BT Group workers with the respect they more than deserve.

“Instead, our attempts to meet and improve this situation were declined by senior management who clearly have no time for the people who make them their massive profits.

“This disrespect has led to the first strike at BT Group in nearly four decades. If the top brass at BT haven’t got it yet – this strike is a problem that is entirely of their own making.

“BT Group workers deserve to be treated with dignity. That means a proper pay rise, and we will not give up until we get that.”

ENDS

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