999 emergency call handlers are set to walk out for the first time this Thursday as the strike over pay for BT Group workers continues.
Members of the Communication Workers Union – the union for BT workers – will be walking out on Thursday 6 October, with further strikes planned for Monday 10 , Thursday 20 and Monday 24 October.
These strikes include the 30,000 Openreach engineers and 10,000 BT call centre workers who have taken action in previous months in opposition to BT Group management’s imposition of an incredibly low flat-rate pay rise of just £1,500.
In the context of RPI inflation levels already hitting 11.7 per cent this year, the CWU have said this is a “dramatic real-terms pay cut”.
The workers on strike look after the vast majority of Britain’s telecoms infrastructure, from mobile phone connection, broadband internet and back-up generators to national health systems, cyber security and data centres.
In previous strikes, it was agreed between the union and the company that these workers would be exempt from the strike, and that a certain number of workers would be available to work at any given time.
But after widespread outrage at the company’s refusal to negotiate with union representatives, these workers will now be joining their company colleagues, the CWU said.
CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said: “This dispute is modern Britain in a nutshell: lives are at risk because a company’s top brass won’t listen to workers.
“This decision was not taken lightly, but our union’s repeated attempts to initiate discussions was declined by a management who clearly believe they are above negotiating a fair deal for people who make massive profits for them.”