BT Group members set to strike on 29 July & 1 AugustBT, Openreach July 18 2022
Over 40,000 BT Group workers to hold a two-day national strike against real-terms pay cuts, with senior management accused by our general secretary Dave Ward as having “stuck two fingers up” to key workers…
The announcement followed a strike ballot, in which Openreach engineers voted for action by 95.8 per cent and members in BT returned a 91.5 per cent majority for the walkout. The dispute centres on workers opposing the imposition by the business of a far-below-inflation, flat-rate, £1,500pa pay settlement on employees, which is a dramatic real-terms pay cut when compared to RPI inflation levels of over 11 per cent.
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 per cent wage increase – while the Big Issue and the BBC have reported instances of BT offices establishing food banks to assist employees.
These members look after the vast majority of Britain’s telecoms infrastructure, from mobile phone connection, broadband internet and back-up generators to national heath 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.
Our 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 per cent pay increase and BT’s chief financial officer was handed £2.2 million – a 25 per cent increase. And there has also been £700 million 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.”
And deputy general secretary (T&FS) Andy Kerr said: “The 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 and 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.”
Media reacts to strike call
The strike announcement was widely reported on the BBC, ITV and Sky, with newspapers including the Express and Guardian also featuring the story, while our dispute was further covered on independent media, with Aaron Bastani giving a summary of the situation on his Novara Media platform over the weekend.