Rock solid support for first national BT Group strike in 35 years as CWU members declare war on ‘rip off’ bosses

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT, Openreach

Around 40,000 CWU members across BT and Openreach are delivering the starkest of wake-up calls to the BT Group Board – downing tools en-masse today in a historic display of disgust at management’s blatant contempt for workers and customers alike.

Just after midnight a full 35 years of industrial peace in BT Group came to an abrupt end as the telecom giant’s employees across UK began a two-day national strike against real-term pay cuts that have left some reliant on food banks in an ever-deepening cost of living crisis.

Poignantly, the strike – which will continue for a second 24-hour period on Monday – began just hours after the release of company’s latest quarterly results which once again nailed management’s lie that BT cannot afford to pay frontline workers a rise that even comes close to inflation.

Responding to the announcement of a further £400m profit in the first quarter, on top of the £1.3bn achieved in the last financial year – and plans for further massive price hikes for hard-pressed customers to boot – CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr hit out at the insatiable greed of a senior management team that appears to think it can pile insult on injury to staff and customers alike with absolute impunity.

“Announcing hundreds of millions of pounds in profit on the eve of the first national strike since 1987 smacks of arrogance and complete contempt for frontline workers,” Andy insisted.

“This dispute sits squarely at the feet of BT Group CEO Philip Jansen and the Board. They represent everything that needs to change about big business in Britain.

“Our members kept the country connected during the pandemic. They deserve a proper pay rise, and that’s what they are going to get.”

That message was powerfully reinforced by CWU general secretary Dave Ward in the first major TV interview of a day which is already seeing massive interest in the dispute from across the broadcast, print and online media.

Speaking to Sky News just after 7am this morning from the picket line outside BT Tower, Dave lambasted a brass-necked senior management culture in which “ripping off” staff and customers alike is seen as a badge of honour and an acceptable route to their own personal enrichment.

“There needs to be some kind of enquiry into the action of these people who are ripping off the whole of society,” Dave stressed.

“Our members are feeling disgusted at the actions of this CEO and the BT Group Board and they are not going to put up with it anymore.”

Responding to BT’s laughable claims that its unilateral imposition of a flat-rate £1,500 pay increase is generous and the maximum affordable – despite it not coming close to mainlining the living standards of even BT Group’s lowest paid workers when set against the current RPI inflation level of 11.8% – Dave pointedly reminded the interviewer of Philip Jansen’s personal 32% pay hike.

Citing the “need for action against this type of business leaders” Dave continued:  “We cannot carry on letting them live in a parallel galaxy, let alone a parallel universe – treating their workers the way they are while ripping off customers.

“Yesterday  these guys announced a £400 million first quarter profit on top of the recently announced £1.3 billion – and that that they are again going to put prices up which will amount to a 23% price increase for customers in 12 months.

“I don’t think anyone could accept that as reasonable – and I’d urge the Government to launch an enquiry into the way BT management is running this company.”

  • National roundup of today’s strike action to follow later