BT and Openreach workers are staging fresh strikes over pay as the summer of industrial unrest across the country continues.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said 40,000 of its members at BT Group are showing “serious determination” to get a decent wage rise as they walk out on Tuesday and Wednesday, following action earlier this month.
The union said workers are opposing the imposition of an “incredibly low” flat-rate pay rise of £1,500.
“In the context of RPI inflation levels already hitting 11.7% this year, this is a dramatic real-terms pay cut,” said the union.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “These are the same workers who kept the country connected during the pandemic. Without CWU members, there would have been no home-working revolution, and vital technical infrastructure may have malfunctioned or been broken when our country most needed it.
“These people have performed phenomenally under great strain and have been given a real-terms pay cut for a reward.
“The reason for the strike is simple: workers will not accept a massive deterioration in their living standards.
“We won’t have bosses using Swiss banks while workers are using food banks.
“BT Group workers are saying enough is enough. They have serious determination to win, and are not going to stop until they are listened to.”
CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: “The constant disrespect shown towards our workforce has led to strike action that has been supported overwhelmingly by the public.
“If the top brass at BT haven’t got it yet, this is a problem entirely of their own making.
“BT Group workers will receive the dignity they deserve. That means a proper pay rise, and we will not give up until we get that.”
A BT Group spokesperson said: “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.”
The company said that when it became clear it was not going to reach agreement with the union, it awarded the highest pay rise in more than 20 years.
BT Group said a fully consolidated pay award to team members and frontline employees of £1,500 represents a rise of around 5% on average and 8% for the lowest paid, effective from April 1 this year.
It added it was the highest pay rise it had awarded in 20 years.