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Fresh strike for BT and Openreach workers amid pay dispute

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said his members remained determined to continue with the action.

23 October 2022

BT and Openreach workers will stage a fresh strike on Monday in a long-running dispute over pay.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), including 999 call handlers, will walk out for 24 hours following a wave of stoppages in recent weeks.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said his members remained determined to continue with the action, adding: “We’re never going to walk away from this.”

The union said BT’s “imposed” pay rise of £1,500 was worth between 5% and less than 3%, well below “spiralling” inflation.

The first national industrial action in BT Group for three and a half decades took place on July 29 and August 1, two further strikes were held at the end of August, followed by three further walkouts this month before Monday’s action.

BT workers dispute
Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (James Manning/PA)

CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: “When the 999 callers are out on strike, you know something is going very wrong in this country.

“Time and time again, we have asked for negotiations to resolve what is a dangerous dispute, only to be ignored.

“But BT Group workers are sick of this corporate arrogance, and they are determined and united.

“They will fight hard to get the proper pay rise and the dignity that they deserve.”

A BT Group spokesperson said: “We will do whatever it takes to protect 999 services, redeploying our people to the most important priority is a normal part of BT Group operations.

“We made the best pay award we could in April and we have held discussions with the CWU to find a way forward from here.

“In the meantime, we will continue to work to minimise any disruption and keep our customers and the country connected.”

CWU officials will meet major BT shareholders on Monday to warn that backing strikes is “the only thing to do”.

Maintenance and call backlogs across the UK are growing by the day as the strike action takes a grip, said the union.

Dave Ward said: “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.

“Morale is at an all time low – we have an out of control, out of touch chief executive 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.”

Andy Kerr said: “Our members are standing strong – they know supporting the union is not only the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do.

“Despite being impacted by the worst cost-of-living crisis in memory, CWU members are fighting back.

“Monday’s strike turnout will be rock solid once again, and this will remain the case until BT wake up and get back around the negotiating table to settle this dispute.”

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