BT and Openreach workers in Birmingham reveal reasons behind strike

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Strikes took place up and down the country today, including in Birmingham

BT and Openreach workers across the West Midlands went on strike on Monday (1 August) in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), including call centre workers and engineers, planned to walk out for 24 hours following action on Friday. The union took to picket lines outside company offices across the country and are asked people to bring food to deliver to local food banks.

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The strike is against a £1,500 pay increase for all employees, which the CWU says means a real terms wage cut because of the soaring rate of inflation. BT strikes took place across the Midlands, including at Snow Hill in Birmingham city centre, as well as the Hockley Industrial Estate.

Workers protest at the Hockley Industrial EstateWorkers protest at the Hockley Industrial Estate
Workers protest at the Hockley Industrial Estate | Jaime Monsma

Speaking to BirminghamWorld, BT worker Jaime Monsma said members aren’t happy with the pay rise which has been offered.

She said: “Philip Jansen (the Chief Executive of BT) isn’t listening to what the CWU are saying on behalf of their members. And the members aren’t happy with the pay rise they have enforced on the workforce because it’s not in line with inflation, and actually what they’ll be getting is a pay cut effectively.

“Our members aren’t vey happy with what Philip Jansen is doing especially when he gets a 32% pay rise and we’re not even getting 10%. We want him to come back to the table, and seriously discuss an actual proper pay rise with th CWU national team. The members will be happy with that.”

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Union members strike at Snow Hill in Birmingham

What has BT said?

A BT Group spokesperson said: “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.

“When it became clear that we were not going to reach an accord, we took the decision to go ahead with awarding our team members and frontline colleagues the highest pay award in more than 20 years, effective 1st April. We have confirmed to the CWU that we won’t be reopening the 2022 pay review, having already made the best award we could.

“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.

“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.”

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