BT and Openreach strikes over pay are likely to continue well into next year, says union insider.
This could mean that the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents around 40,000 BT workers, could cause disruption across 999 call centres and Openreach engineer services until next April — spelling danger for a winter of potential blackouts and Covid spikes.
The CWU has already taken eight days of strike action this year against the FTSE 100 firm over pay, which they say is inadequate against the soaring rate of inflation.
For the first time ever, emergency services call handlers also agreed to take part in the latest wave of strike action this month, which continues today.
BT offered staff a flat-rate pay rise of £1,500 in April, which represented a pay rise of around five per cent on average and eight per cent for the lowest paid workers.
The telecoms giant said that it has confirmed with CWU that it wouldn’t re-open a 2022 pay review, having already made “the best award we could”.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work to minimise any disruption and keep our customers and the country connected,” a BT spokesperson said.
An insider told City A.M. that the union was unlikely to back down on action unless the company changes its position on pay.
The majority of disruption has been seen in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is understood that over 500 call handlers for 999 have walked out over what they deem as unfair pay terms.
The source union said that strike action was likely to continue until next year’s annual pay negotiation because of this inaction from BT.
“Meeting the shareholders of BT Group is the natural next step – it should demonstrate to the company that we won’t relent until we have exposed them and changed the course of this dispute. Alongside these external pressures, BT workers will take further strike action if needed,” CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said in a statement today.
“Morale is at an all-time low – we have an out of control, out of touch CEO who is counting his money while his employees are using foodbanks. This is just not right, and we will not stop fighting until our members gain a proper pay rise.”
BT chief Philip Jansen is due to release half year results on 3 November.