Frontline BT staff eye first nationwide strike in 35 years over ‘insulting’ pay offer

Frontline telecom workers at BT are due to be elected in the first strike to hit the company in 35 years next month in a dispute over a real-world pay cut.

Company workers have launched a ‘vicious attack on living standards’ after a £1,500 lump sum offer fell well below the rate of inflation.

The Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) has called the imposed hike “insulting” and will now consult with its members on the company’s first walkout since the 1980s.

This means that up to 40,000 company employees in BT, Openreach and EE – including those in Scotland – could take industrial action over the summer months.

A BT Group spokesman said he was “disappointed” by the decision, saying there would be “no winners” from the strike threat.

However, CWU Deputy General Secretary Andy Kerr said key workers who helped keep the UK’s communications network going during the Covid shutdown deserved better after BT announced operating profits of around £1.3bn last year.

He added: “While those at the top are enjoying better profits than they expected, some of the workers who made those profits for them are having to choose between heating or eating.

“They amply deserve adequate reward for their contributions, and that’s why they will vote to call a strike.”

More than 117,000 workers took action in January 1987 following BT’s decision not to reinstate engineers suspended during a dispute over pay and conditions.

The company, which was public at the time, was privatized seven years later.

Ballots are expected to be sent out on June 15.

A BT spokesman said the company’s pay ‘in most cases remains at or above market rate’ as he urged CWU members not to strike.

They added, “After giving our frontline colleagues the biggest pay raise in over 20 years, we are disappointed that the CWU is considering industrial action because if it continues, no one wins.

“By making a lump sum pay rise of £1,500, we ensured that our lowest paid colleagues received up to an 8% increase, while those on higher salaries would receive an even more than 3% .

“We are emerging from a two-year global pandemic that has created difficult business conditions for BT Group – and many other businesses – and has exacerbated a five-year year-on-year declining revenue trend. last years.”

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