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BT staff to decide on major strike action

The staff of the UK’s largest telecoms group, BT, will decide on Thursday whether to go on strike for the first time in 35 years, joining a slew of workers across the country who are demanding higher wages as they deal with a serious crisis in the cost of living.

If the strikes continue, they are likely to cause some disruption to BT and EE customers in the UK, many of whom cannot have new telephone and internet lines installed or repaired, and will struggle to reach support staff on telephone lines.

BT is embroiled in a three-month dispute with the Communication Workers Union, which has accused management of making a low lump-sum pay increase despite rising inflation. The strike vote, opened by the CWU on June 15, has recruited 40,000 members working at BT and its Openreach and EE subsidiaries.

BT’s proposed strike action, which would not begin before July 14, comes amid an expanding wave of workers’ unrest. As Britain was hit last week by the biggest railway strike in a generation, union leaders have warned that union action will spread across the public sector – to teachers, nurses and healthcare workers – unless the government backs pay increases. Meanwhile, the CWU is also voting 115,000 Royal Mail postmen on proposed strike action.

BT offered a pay raise of £1,500 to 58,000 frontline workers, including technicians, contact center workers and shop assistants, in April, representing 3 to 8 per cent depending on their base salary. It said it was the highest pay raise it had offered in 20 years.

The package was reprimanded by the CWU, which pointed out that “recent raises of up to £20,000 for some of the company’s lowest-paid employees . . . count towards the £1,500 raise and are deducted, meaning for many the ‘ headline’ increase . . . is very deceptive”.

Andy Kerr, deputy general secretary of the CWU, said: “Overall, the deal is worth about 4.8 percent and we just don’t believe that’s enough — especially after a wage freeze last year and the full-on cost of living crisis we’re facing. sit in it now.”

Inflation in the UK hit a 40-year high in May, reaching 9.1 percent amid rising food and fuel prices, and economists predict it will hit double digits by the fall.

BT CEO Philip Jansen received a 32 percent pay increase to £3.5m in the past fiscal year, due to bonuses and share awards. The CWU pointed out that this amounts to 86 times the average wage level in the BT Group.

“Mr Jansen personally benefits from a 32 per cent increase in his total compensation package this year – while piously positing that a company that has just announced a profit of £1.3bn cannot afford to scrape together enough to pay its employees a rise that even comes. close to offsetting the rising cost of living,” the CWU said in a statement.

BT said in a statement: “It is disappointing that the CWU has decided to vote in favor of industrial action without consulting its members about the outcome of our negotiations. If there is a strike, no one wins.”

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