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CWU to BT: come to table by July 13 or risk first strikes in 35 years

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has told BT to start formal talks over employee pay rises this week or it will move forward with its plans to strike for the first time in 35 years.

Last month, around 96% of 21,000 BT Openreach engineers and 91.5% of call centre staff voted to strike over an “incredibly low” pay increase offer of £1,500 per worker (around 3%-8% depending on the employee’s initial salary). The CWU has said this is inadequate and has framed it against CEO Phillip Jansen’s most recent pay increase of 32% year-over-year to £3.5 million per annum. 

Now in an email to members of the CWU (via The Information), the union has set a deadline of July 13 for BT to respond. It said: “We have committed to talks with the company but only if they are willing to improve their offer, agree to no further imposition on pay and agree that it would be subject to a CWU consultative ballot of all affected members.

We clearly hope BT Group see sense and the ballot result wakes them up but we have to be prepared to use the ballot result.”

Should BT not come to the table, a branch forum of union reps will meet on July 13 to discuss possible strike dates. The memo said “We will either enter into serious negotiations with the company or we will announce strike action. The ball is firmly in the company’s court.”

A spokesperson for BT told the outlet that “we will work to keep our customers and the country connected” and noted that it is investing in “a once-in-a-generation investment programme to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks” – an investment for which it is receiving significant tax breaks.

While it has stated ‘disappointment’ at the result of the vote, there has been no indication from BT whether it will be willing to improve upon its offered pay rise.

Tags: BT, CWU

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