BT executives have called on trade unions to guarantee that 999 services will not be impacted during impending strikes.
It comes as the Communication Worker Union (CWU), which represents around 40,000 workers, is expected to announce a series of strike dates after being unable to reach a deal with the FTSE 100 company on pay.
Around 30,000 Openreach engineers and 9,000 BT call centre workers voted in favour of a walkout last month, with Openreach members voted by 95 per cent in favour of strikes on a 74 per cent turnout and BT workers by 91 per cent on a 58 per cent turnout.
While CWU members at EE also voted in favour of action, it failed by just eight votes to reach the legal union threshold, meaning EE won’t be able to serve notice of action.
CWU rejected the “incredibly low” £1,500 flat-rate pay rise offered by BT to 58,000 frontline workers in April, with the union stating that it was effectively a relative pay cut.
The CWU gave BT until the end of last week to provide a “significantly improved offer”, which is in line with the cost of living and inflationary pressures placed on workers.
Speaking with City A.M. following the ballot results, CWU Deputy General Secretary Andy Kerr said that while many of the call centre workers aren’t actually located in the capital, the fall out of any strike action will be felt particularly hard in London.
“Business in the city would be a big issue, and firms could be hit hard”, he said, explaining how Openreach engineers support top London boards’ tech infrastructures.
BT owned Openreach also provides the telephone cables and exchanges that connect nearly all homes and businesses in the UK, raising question marks about what a nationwide strike would look like for Brits’ everyday lives.
They are notably crucial to the running of emergency services lines, which Kerr suggested to City A.M. would not be impacted by any strike action.
However, Mark Kleinman for Sky News reported that top dogs at BT wrote to the CWU to clarify whether the union would guarantee staffing for its ‘life and limb contract’.
A CWU spokesperson told Sky News this morning: “The CWU has not yet called any industrial action, so any discussion over potential disruption is pure speculation at this stage.”