‘Bank the money and our collective strength,’ BT Group members urged, as ballot begins on company’s ‘final’ pay offer


Members across the whole of BT Group are strongly advised to accept management’s ‘final’ offer to end six months of industrial strife.

The deal on the table – which is now subject to a consultative ballot that gets underway today (Tuesday) – sees all CWU-represented grade employees in BT, Openreach and EE receive a further £1,500 fully consolidated pay increase from January 1, 2023.

This comes on top of the £1,500 flat-rate increase that was imposed by BT in April this year, so the deal equates to a headline fully consolidated and pensionable pay increase totalling £3,000 in the current financial year.

In percentage terms that translates to over 10% for TMNE2 graded Openreach service delivery engineers and just under 10% for all B2s – to mention just two of the most populous CWU-represented grades. Lower paid employees, who are especially impacted by the cost of living crisis, fare even better in percentage terms, with TMSV2s and TMSV1s receiving fully consolidated increases of over 13% and 15% respectively.

Crucially, for the CWU, the deal applies across the entire team member grade range – not just to those on lower salaries, as had initially been suggested by the company.

The additional £1,500 uplift will be paid monthly in January providing the proposal is accepted – making it worth £1,875 in the 2022 pay year.

A further pay review will take place on September 1, 2023 – following  talks aimed at resolving a raft of longstanding pay-point and grading disagreements which are likely to result in further pay uplifts for some.

Then, just seven months later, there will be another pay review date from April 1st 2024.

“The last few months certainly haven’t been without sacrifice,” stresses CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr; “but considering where we started out – with an imposed settlement representing real-term pay cuts in an unprecedented cost of living crisis – members have every reason to stand tall at what the first large-scale industrial action in BT Group in 35 years has achieved.

“One thing is absolutely certain: If members hadn’t supported the strike action so solidly, the company wouldn’t have voluntarily offered a penny more than what it imposed in April.

“Getting BT back to the negotiating table was a huge achievement in itself – setting an important marker for the future that CWU members will never accept imposition.

“Arguably the biggest achievement of all, however, was on the issue of consolidation – because that’s something the company really didn’t want to concede,” Andy continues.

“It’s impossible to overstate how important consolidated pay rises are, because effectively they’re paid out again and again in every consecutive year. The one-off ‘cost of living allowance’ BT was initially proposing – along the same lines as a number of other major employers have implemented  – would, by contrast, have been nothing more than a short-term sticking plaster which, once spent, is gone forever.”

Consolidation’s the key…

Detailed explanations of the impact of consolidation – and why maximising the amount being consolidated is far more beneficial to employees in the long run than the one-off backdating of a lower sum – were set out in  BT Pay Bulletin No.199 which was issued  to members last week . In short, however, consolidation means that:

  • All future percentage pay rises are built on a higher base salary and therefore worth significantly more.
  • Bonuses based on a percentage of salary also increase, as do overtime and bank holiday premiums that are calculated on hourly rates.
  • Where consolidated rises are also fully pensionable – which is the case with BT’s final offer – the employer permanently pays more into employee pension pots.

Telecoms and Financial Services (TFS) Executive chair and CWU President, Karen Rose – who was also part of the national negotiating team – adds: “The deal on the table is on the whole the best pay offer the CWU has achieved this year in any of the companies where the union is recognised for collective bargaining purposes, and reaffirms the collective strength that ultimately forced BT back to the negotiating table.

“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that that this is BT’s ‘final’ offer and the very best that can be achieved through negotiation.

“We are recommending acceptance and members need to be clear that, if this proposal is rejected, we would have no choice but to run new statutory industrial action ballots and then undertake further strike action in the New Year.

“Our strong recommendation to members is therefore to  vote to ‘Accept’ this deal which stacks up very favourably against the best being achieved anywhere in British industry at the moment,” Karen concludes.