BT workers vote for first strike in 35 years

Workers at BT have voted to strike over an “incredibly low” pay increase offer.

On Thursday, around 96% of 21,000 BT Openreach engineers voted to strike, with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) saying that 91.5% of BT Group workers who voted also favoured a strike.

The union has criticised BT’s offer of a £1,500 pay increase to frontline workers “incredibly low,” with the offer translating to 3%-8% – lower than the ​​9.1% rate of inflation. BT meanwhile has said that the pay award is its biggest in 20 years. 

Announcing the results of the vote to strike, CWU general secretary Dave Ward highlighted CEO Phillip Jansen’s most recent pay increase of 32% year-over-year to £3.5 million. He said that this figure is 86-times the average pay across Openreach, BT and EE.

Ward said: “Call centre workers are some of the most casualised and isolated workforces in this country … the unprecedented vote they have taken today demonstrates the anger so many people feel in this country today.”

A spokesperson for BT meanwhile stated: “The result of the CWU’s ballot is a disappointment but we will work to keep our customers and the country connected. Our job is to balance the competing demands of BT Group’s stakeholders and that requires careful management, especially in a challenging economic environment.”

Timing of any potential strike is unclear, but the CWU said that it will have a “serious effect” on infrastructure and may cause disruption to phone and internet users.

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