TECHNOLOGY

BT to keep network running, CWU sets strike dates

Carrier frustrated after union rejects BT’s highest pay in 20 years and sets strike date July 29 and August 1

BT says it got the best pay it can make in the current circumstances as the Communications Workers Union (CWU) sets the strike date later this month.

The CWU, which represents 40,000 BT employees, went on strike on Friday, July 29 and Monday, August 1. BT, meanwhile, has pledged to try to minimize disruption and keep customers connected.

But the frustration at BT cannot be disguised, after the carrier said it had implemented wage increases of around 5 percent and 8 percent on average for the lowest paid – effective April 1, 2022.

Broadband project in Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire

Pay raise

BT also told Silicon UK it had awarded a fully consolidated pay raise to its team member and frontline colleagues of £1,500.

It was reported that the CWU had requested 10 percent and promptly rejected that pay increase.

BT has confirmed to Silicon UK that it will not reopen the 2022 wage review, meaning strike action is now most likely to take place, which could lead to potential broadband and phone outages for some.

“Early this year, we were in exhaustive discussions with the CWU that lasted two months, trying hard to reach an agreement on compensation,” a BT Group spokesperson told Silicon UK.

“When it became clear that we would not reach an agreement, we decided to award our team member and frontline colleagues, effective April 1, the highest pay in more than 20 years,” the spokesperson added.

“We have confirmed to the CWU that we will not reopen the 2022 salary review as we have already awarded the best award we could,” the spokesperson said. “We are balancing the complex and competitive demands of our stakeholders and that includes making one-off investments to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks, vital to the UK economy and to the future of BT Group – including our people .”

“While we respect the choice of our colleagues who are members of the CWU to strike, we will work to minimize disruption and keep our customers and the country connected,” the spokesperson said. “We have tried and tested processes for mass absences from colleagues to minimize any inconvenience to our customers and these have been proven during the pandemic.”

Industrial action

BT faced prospects of strikes in 2010 and again in July 2021, which would have been the first national strike by the former British incumbent since 1987.

That July 2021 agreement settled a row over planned job cuts and facility closures as part of BT’s moderation move, and also included an agreement that “BT will implement a pay increase for team members next year (i.e. 2022).

Last year, BT also gave 60,000 frontline workers a special £1,500 bonus in recognition of their work during the coronavirus pandemic, keeping the UK’s communication channels working.

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