The majority of BT union members have voted in favour of industrial action, paving the way for nationwide disruption and representing the FTSE 100 firm’s first company-wide call for strike action in 35 years across s BT and Openreach.
Call centre workers voted for the first national call centre strike in British history, including 30,000 Openreach engineers who voted to strike against an “unjust”, “unsustainable” pay imposition.
The vote had a 74.8 per cent turnout, with 95.8 per cent of Openreach engineers backing strike action.
Around 9,000 BT call centre workers voted in the ballot, with 91 per cent voting in favour on a 58 per cent turnout.
Members voting in EE voted in favour of strike action by 95 per cent on a 49.7 per cent turnout, but fell short by less than a single percentage of passing the threshold imposed by the 2016 anti-union laws.
As a result, this means that EE union members won’t be able to take strike action.
The ballot comes after the union rejected the “incredibly low” £1,500 flat-rate pay rise offered by BT in April, which the CWU had called a relative pay cut.
Communication Workers Union (CWU), the union representing BT workers, warned the telecoms giant would face “tremendous disruption” to its operations unless it improved its pay offer to staff.
However, General Secretary Dave Ward have given BT until the end of next week to provide a “significantly improved offer”.
A BT Group spokesperson said: “BT Group awarded its highest pay rise for frontline colleagues in more than 20 years – an average 5% increase and up to 8% for those on the lowest salaries. At the same time, we’re in the middle of a once-in-a-generation investment programme to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks.
“These investments are vital for the benefit of our millions of customers and for the UK economy. Above all, they are central to the success of this business – and its colleagues – now and in the future.
“Our job is to balance the competing demands of BT Group’s stakeholders and that requires careful management, especially in a challenging economic environment. The result of the CWU’s ballot is a disappointment but we will work to keep our customers and the country connected.”
BT is due to have its AGM on 14 July and it is understood that any strike action will not start until after this point.