40,000 BT and Openreach workers join wave of UK strike action

BT and Openreach staff kicked off the latest strike in the recent wave of industrial action sweeping the UK as the cost of living crisis bites.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) confirmed over 40,000 of its members would be taking strike action over Tuesday and Wednesday.

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BT and Openreach workers will be striking for the first time in 35 years to protest insufficient salary increases.

The action coincides with the CWU’s Royal Mail strike, which is scheduled to start on 31 August with 115,000 members participating.

The industrial action joins a massive movement of sectors across the UK demanding higher pay to keep pace with inflation, which currently sits at 10.1% and is expected to rise to 13% in autumn this year.

BT Group said it offered a 5% pay rise, which rose as high as 8% for the lowest paid employees and represented the most significant pay increase in 20 years.

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However, the CWU commented its members deserved a salary increase to match inflation and avoid a real term pay cut.

The organisation pointed out that BT CEO Philip Jansen received a 32% pay rise last year to £3.5 million, making 86 times the average BT worker salary.

“Our members worked tirelessly to keep the company going and keep the company connected throughout the pandemic,” said a CWU spokesperson.

“Without our BT and Openreach members, there would have been no home working revolution. They deserve a proper pay rise, and that’s what we’re fighting for.”

A BT spokesperson commented earlier in August: “We know that our colleagues are dealing with the impacts of high inflation and, although we’re disappointed, we respect their decision to strike.”

“We have made the best pay award we could and we are in constant 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.”

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