BT Seeks To Keep Network Running, After CWU Sets Strike Dates

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

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

The CWU, which represents 40,000 BT staff, has set strikes for Friday 29 July and Monday 1 August. BT meanwhile has pledged to try and minimise disruption and keep customers connected.

But there is little disguising the frustration at BT, after the carrier said it had implemented a pay rise of around 5 percent on average and 8 percent for the lowest paid – effective from 1 April 2022.

Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire broadband project
Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire broadband project

Pay increase

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

It was reported that the CWU had been seeking 10 percent, and promptly rejected that pay increase.

BT confirmed to Silicon UK that it won’t be re-opening the 2022 pay review, meaning strike action is now highly likely take place, which could led to potential broadband and telephone outages for some.

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

“When it became clear that we were not going to reach an accord, we took the decision to go ahead with awarding our team member and frontline colleagues the highest pay award in more than 20 years, effective 1st April,” the spokesperson added.

“We have confirmed to the CWU that we won’t be re-opening the 2022 pay review, having already made the best award we could,” said the spokesperson. “We’re balancing the complex and competing demands of our stakeholders and that includes making once-in-a-generation investments to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks, vital for the UK economy and for BT Group’s future – including our people.”

“While we respect the choice of our colleagues who are CWU members to strike, we will work to minimise any disruption and keep our customers and the country connected,” said the spokesperson. “We have tried and tested processes for large scale colleague absences to minimise any disruption for our customers and these were proved during the pandemic.”

Industrial action

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

That July 2021 agreement settled a row about planned job cuts and site closures as part of BT’s moderisation drive, 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 staff a special bonus of £1,500 in recognition of their work during the coronavirus pandemic keeping the UK’s communication channels working.