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Strike Threatened BT Gift GBP1500 COVID Bonus to 59000 Staff UPDATE

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021 (7:37 am) - Score 6,912

As the threat of a national strike looms large (here), BT has today proposed to offer around 59,000 frontline UK workers a “special bonus” of £1,500 to recognise their efforts in helping to keep customers and the country connected to broadband, phone and mobile services during the pandemic.

Under this plan BT would pay £1,000 immediately in cash and £500 in shares after 3-years (the £500 share payment is a discretionary award made under their previously announced yourshare scheme), which they say is equivalent to about 5% of the average salary for a front-line worker on their team.

The operator says that this “generous offer” is being made despite BT freezing pay across the company and ongoing, unresolved discussions with the trade unions over its transformation and modernisation plans. Indeed, earlier this month the Communications Workers Union (CWU) announced that they had “taken the decision to move to an official national industrial action ballot“.

The CWU’s Gripes with BT Include:
➤ Mass closure of many sites.
➤ A potential threat to voluntarism in leaving the business.
➤ A piecemeal approach to closure which lessens the chance of re-deployment.
➤ Undermining and ignoring your agreements that protect your pension and voluntary redundancy terms.
➤ Drastically reducing the pay, terms & conditions for multiple roles and grades.

The CWU represent around 45,000 of BT’s staff.

Philip Jansen, BT Group CEO, said:

“BT has made a massive contribution to the national cause over the past year: we’ve supported the NHS, families and businesses, and avoided the use of redundancy or furlough in our response to the pandemic. Our frontline colleagues and key workers have been true heroes, keeping everyone connected in this most difficult time.

BT has delivered for our customers through the dedication of all our people, but inevitably the pandemic hit our financial performance, like that of most companies. In this context, we have to prioritise and I am determined that we will do everything in our power to reward our frontline colleagues.”

The move will be welcomed by some, although we suspect that the CWU may take a more cynical view of its timing. Meanwhile, BT gains an opportunity to highlight some of the challenges that is has faced and the importance of their services to many consumers, while at the same time scoring some points for rewarding their workforce, even if only temporarily. Whether or not this is enough to influence the upcoming strike ballot is another matter.

No change to BT’s full year financial outlook is expected as a result of this team member bonus payment.

UPDATE 5:05pm

The CWU have said their “members will not fall for what simply amounts to a bribe to not vote for strike action.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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57 Responses
  1. JansenOut says:

    No pay rise for management grades for two years now, and no pay rise for team members this year.

    This won’t go down with CWU-Prospect unions. Released a week before the financial year just to dangle the carrot with the workforce to squeeze every last bit out of the workforce who have worked constantly and tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

    1. Dai says:

      £1500 is a generous bonus. I am not commenting on any other specifics, but to bemoan a £1500 bonus in 2021 is crass, and to many others who are getting nothing (or have lost their jobs), offensive.

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      Absolutely, its a derisory attempt to quell the discussions about striking, nothing more. Isn’t it amazing how they can find a big chunk of cash to throw about because they know it’ll cost them far less than giving their hard working staff a proper pay rise?

      And we all know the only way they’ll get a pay rise anyway is to lose something else, be it holiday entitlement, pension contributions or higher expectations, a chasm of difference between the people at the top of the company and the people who do the work get.

      Whatever happened to sharing in success? oh, it became that thing where they just reward board members annually regardless of any reason, all paid for by shafting the companies workers.

    3. T says:

      Can’t expect to have your arse wiped the entire time. They’ve not used the furlough scheme and still paid bonuses during the pandemic. CWU will argue back and their emails always are so argumentative and unconstructive. No pay rise is brutal but it’s fully understandable. At least they’re giving something back. Not about finding money here and there that’s just not how it works buggerlugz

    4. Alex says:

      “Whatever happened to sharing in success?”
      Tere has to actually be some success to share in.
      Check out the BT share price.
      Note they stopped paying dividends to shareholders.

    5. Bill says:

      wow you worked during a pandemic. do you want a medal?
      like the rest of us then, at least we’ve got jobs when thousands have been made redundant in the last 12 months and people have lost their businesses. That’s the problem these days it’s all me me me. Look, I worked tirelessly during a pandemic. Yep, you and me both.

  2. Steven Brown says:

    Personally I think it’s generous.

    1. Realist says:

      Union would twist it whether it was 1000 or 10,000. Public reaction to a strike after no furlough, a bonus, and loads of new jobs, will be one of disbelief.

    2. David says:

      The 1500 is, 1000 paid into payslip so tax detectable meaning around 700 after tax, the pay rise last year and the one we shouldhave got this year would have been better overall and well deserved. In the email it stated we were going to give this bonus but since the cwu called for ballot we have to discuss now. So it’s a big tease and slap in the face.

  3. Joan says:

    bemoaned as many of us lost the job. Most get no pay rise for 5 years but still get on with the job!

    1. Anna says:

      5 years? I’ve earnt 25K a year since I was 18 and I am in my 50s I’ve never had a pay rise! I’ve just been grateful to have a job. I am now (due to the covid) perm work from home and I took around a £1500 a year pay cut but that’s fine with me – so they got £1500 and people are whining?

      Wind it in.

    2. Badem says:


      I do have to question how you have remained on a static wage for 30+ years. Granted in 1990s 25k was a HUGE wage, but in 2020 its ballpark for certain office roles now.

      And then to advise you took a paycut to work from home, I switched to WFH and suffered not change in pay

      They are not whining about the 1500k paycut but rather then timing of it being announced right after the unions have declared strike actions due to the treatment of their staff

    3. Hans Gruber says:

      @ Anna,

      So just because you’re a mug, everyone else should be a mug as well?

      Wind it in.

  4. Proud BT Worker says:

    I think that under the current circumstances this is a welcomed offer. BT have committed to it’s employees allowing them to continue working safely in offices and also at home. The CWU needs to get a grip, they are only out to protect the higher grade employees who are already on a considerable amount of money doing the same job as new start people. I will be voting NO from now on with regards to strike action as rejecting an offer like this is stupid when so many others are struggling with no job. BT already pay much more than they need to as their salary’s higher then the national living wage standards.

    1. MorningBribes says:

      ‘ BT already pay much more than they need to as their salary’s higher then the national living wage standards’

      Can’t get my head round this comment.

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      Mouthpiece of BT Management obviously….

    3. Icaras says:

      That last sentence is bizarre.

    4. Kandy Err says:

      Spot on! I think the union and it’s vocal minority members live in a bubble. In the real world having a job on the new terms is great. The old terms are mental in modern business.

    5. des says:

      you sound a little bitter, its not the fault of those who have progressed in their jobs over the years to a higher grade

  5. Scott says:

    This is very much a sweetener for Team Members Grades who until recent years didn’t get any bonus payment.

    Objectively getting £1k and the £500 of shares without any performance related measures should be viewed as a good thing. It doesn’t change that there are a lot of people who feel anxious about changes to T&Cs.

    The 2nd year of no payrises for management grades is going to be a sickener for many (especially if the bonus arrangements are limited).

  6. Jon Harley says:

    Any one who has worked for BT talk a good one but in reality they don’t give a monkeys about there work force who they now treat so badly.
    It use to be a great company to work for, but now to say you work for BT or Openreach it’s not so great. These past years have seen BT lose its values and have been so aggressive towards its staff . Breaking existing agreements , making people unemployed when alternatives are available and now a pay dispute are just a few of a long list of things that BT is trying to ride rough shod over.
    The £1,000 offer is a one off payment, it’s not a pay rise, and it’s not linked to the pension of staff.
    Members of the CWU will see through this and hopefully will back the union 100% to ensure that BT are forced to negotiate properly with the CWU.
    We have seen many seniors come and go in BT Openreach and Philip Jansen is no different, he will leave no matter what with a massive amount of company shares just like all the others, people of BT deserve better than this.

  7. JP says:

    Oh well, that’s about £88m the customers are gonna have to find then, there’s always one group out to grab more than its fair share… **** all of them!

    1. Robbie says:

      Not true , the payment is coming from ceasing of the company share save scheme so employees also loose that option as well .
      £500 shares are untouchable for 5 years and was an agreement from 2019 nothing to do with Covid . The £1k bonus is non pensionable and after tax and NI is £690 ., as it’s non pensionable itts aimed at cutting the pension deficit a bit a 1% pay rise is better long term .

    2. JP says:

      Meh… IDC

  8. Gavin says:

    I’m not sure of the in’s and out’s of this potential strike. But the optics and PR are very bad for the union.

    At a time when people are lucky to still have a job and be earning money, these people are threatening to strike and take everyone down.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      BT are well aware of that. Which is probably the reason for dangling this carrot Gavin.

    2. Once Proud BT Worker says:

      The strike has nothing to do with COVID and these current times. This has been a long time coming with numerous failed negotiations for a fare approach to restructuring forcing hundreds of jobs out of the south of England with a bullying approach so they can employ new staff in other parts of the country doing the same work for less money. This is a company that still posts vast amounts of profit yet has eroded its workers hard earned negotiated rights all in the name of profit and share dividends.

  9. Joy says:

    Sounds generous. Virgin Media engineers got a £500 covid bonus and they had a real fight with management to get work restricted during the pandemic. They already get paid less than BT, have no union and continued doing installs and entering customers homes during the pandemic helping VM make a good profit last year.

    1. NoBrainer says:

      Summed up quite nicely Joy. This is why the union exists and we fight not to become a company like VM.

      Race to the bottom comes to mind. Look at what VM can get away with, we’d like some of that ! ( top brass dreams )

    2. Icaraa says:

      To be fair, an Openreach engineer doing copper repairs (as most do) has a far more technical job than a Virgin Media repair engineer. Not your fault, it’s just a messier, more complex network.

    3. Paul says:

      Alot of people on here saying bt should be grateful, or get a medal for working during this pandemic…. let me tell you going into 10 houses a day, not knowing if customers have COVID is hard on the body and the mind, and for what because yr broadband is running slow……… So you can work from home in your dressing gown play on yr console ALL DAY…GET A GRIP..£1500 is a pittance to what we have had to deal with

  10. Anonymous says:

    I don’t work for BT or know anyone, so cannot simply write off strike action with comments about “being lucky to get any bonus”.

    My company isn’t giving a salary increase or performance bonus this year I expected, even though utility companies will continue with price increases and the quango likes of OfGem, OfWat and Ofcom allow them.

    My understanding was that this was more than just pay, it was about pensions too and other contractual perks. The latter is important and likely to have formed part of the contract and reason you join a company. Too many companies want to water down any form of employee perks like even an extra day or two long service leave whilst those near the top go unaffected and have more generous perks anyway.

    1. BT Employee says:

      You have hit the nail on the head. If you buy a car or enter into a contract that does not stipulate changes can be made you would feel quite annoyed and let down if they say the price has gone up half way through. Also if you do agree to make changes eg the BT pension scheme closure and they agreed not to affect our T and C’s only later to renage on that promise you would be peed off. This is what the unions are fighting for and against a company who lie to their staff

  11. BT worker. says:

    What a load of rubbish. The ‘bonus’ is being used as blackmail to vote no on the upcoming industrial action ballot.

    Its also to try cover up the fact they are offering 0% pay rise for its lowest paid workers so this ‘bonus’ is no bonus at all just propaganda.

    All the people commenting about the strike action and linking it to the lack of a pay rise should look a little deeper. There are many reasons for the strike including office closure and force redundancies, eroding of terms and severance packages.

    Even if they close offices people were not given the option to work from home instead they either had to travel, in some cases over 100 miles, to the next nearest office or be made redundant. Given the current state of the country it has made it very clear that this is not needed and working from home is a more than viable option.

    I’m lucky and haven’t been affected by any of the site closures working in the BT side of things and its mainly affected OpenReach office staff so far but I will still vote yes to industrial action.

    That is what being part of a Union us about – Having each others backs.

    1. OR says:

      A men to that. Some of the ‘workplace’ generation would do well to read and understand that comment.

    2. Icaras says:

      Explain this bit “Its also to try cover up the fact they are offering 0% pay rise for its lowest paid workers”

      No one is getting a pay rise in the company.

  12. BT Employee says:

    What you all seem to be forgetting yes its a payment but BT has not been affected by the pandemic quite the opposite. Due to the high demand and strain put on telecoms networks over the last year front line staff have been working flat out to keep people working from home in a job. The company make billions every year but keeps picking away at the workers. Jealousy is not a good trait PS just because the company YOU work for treats you like dirt doesn’t mean you should accept it

    1. Icaras says:

      To be fair, profits and revenue were down quite a bit in 2020. You forget that BT is not just a home broadband company.

    2. Realist says:

      Not affected?? Seriously stop listening to CWU spin and take a look at the facts and numbers. And before you go on a rant about profit, remember that all that is reinvested and a small slice of the 12billion being spent on the fibre network that keeps us all in jobs.

  13. It’s time says:

    Why does everything have to be a race to the bottom. This strike will be about protecting jobs and getting decent pay rates for future generations, not for the older generation as a previous post says. just because others aren’t prepared to stand up to eroding conditions of work, doesn’t mean that BT people shouldn’t. Those t&c’s have been negotiated over years and BT should be proud that they once had reasonably good industrial relations. Instead someone has thought why treat people decently when we can get away with treating them badly. I’m truly sorry for those that have had it rough recently, even more reason why we should want to improve things..Instead of people continually saying I am worse off than you, stand up for yourselves and say ENOUGH.

  14. Ex BT employee says:

    Let’s face it. Bt has been struggling for years and their revenue is shrinking all the time. They have a very old workforce that is just waiting for the retirement. Extremely reluctant to any change because it requires effort. Technology is advancing really fast and your visio diagrams and excel spreadsheets won’t cut it anymore. However, worst part about BT are the middle managers that are completely clueless about what they are doing, I’ve never seen so many unqualified people in one company.

    And before you say how can I know all this I’m an ex BT employee that left after less than two years. Found a better job elsewhere and never looked back.

    1. Fastman says:

      question is when did you do those 2 years, 80, 90s 2000. 2010 – 2018

      you seem to be very unspecifc – i assume that because its probably years ago and you probably waiting to you get some pension at 60 (that you worked 2 years for ) when many having worked considerably longer will have to wait sigificantly longer for

    2. Ex BT employee says:

      I left bt few weeks ago 😉

    3. Fastman says:

      so you lasted 2 years, and left with a chip on your shoulder – not sure what that indicates frankly

  15. Countmein strike now says:

    Utter crap, worked all through the pandemic so the ungrateful could work at home.
    Management getting multi million pound bonuses with the multiple homes and super cars.
    Company profit is 1.7 billion but the cant afford to reward its staff accordly.

    But still make the scum class do a annual “ethics, how we work” online class.

    1. Bob says:

      You want to have a look at how much the union fat cats get paid fella, if that kind of thing is important to you

  16. Robbie says:

    It’s a Bribe to try stop a strike , the payment is coming from ceasing of the company share save scheme so employees also loose that option as well .
    £500 shares are untouchable for 5 years and was an agreement from 2019 nothing to do with Covid . The £1k bonus is non pensionable and after tax and NI is £690 ., as it’s non pensionable itts aimed at cutting the pension deficit a bit a 1% pay rise is better long term .

  17. Had Enough says:

    So a lot of people don’t seem to understand, the BT staff will happily appreciate the £1000 before tax. However majority won’t see the other 500 in shares due to the impending redundancies being made by BT management. So many have lost their jobs in the pandemic but we kept ours. Now we are fighting to keep them. BT have already announced their plans are for a smaller workforce in a simpler network model. The redundancies are planned just not announced. Horrible feeling coming into work not knowing if today will be your last. Bt and openreach staff have suffered so much mental health issues over the past 18 months. Sit back and look at yourselves when your internet goes slow or loses connection. I bet you don’t call through all happy. Now imagine your then40th person to come through in a temper because ur 900 meg broadband is only running at 600 so want to blame the person down the phone. We take the abuse and bite our tongues and now we are fighting for our jobs I VOTE YES to the strike so the nation can realise what we actually do for them

    1. Icaras says:

      The “majority” won’t see that £500? So you think the majority of staff will be made redundant? On what grounds?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Even though I have never worked for BT or got any family members or friends that do, I find myself siding with the staff.

    At the moment, a lot of companies because of poor management are trying to water down redundancy terms, erode pensions into new schemes that are a fraction of the old schemes and remove any perks like 1 or 2 days extra service leave when you hit, say, 10 years service.

    Redundancy terms are contractual – but many companies try to force you to sign a new contract where you no longer have a month for every year for example and they want to give you the minimum, using pandemic in a lot of cases as an excuse to do it.

    When you say I don’t agree to a change in terms, they try to “bench” you for other work to make you feel worthless, and then bully you or pretend your performance isn’t what it should be for a performance improvement plan so they can terminate you later for free when they review and say no improvement. I’ve had colleagues go through this – performance fine all through career, bonus sometimes even. The only reason the performance improvement plans got dropped is because as a group, they all lodged an HR complaint process against the appraising manager (and it wasn’t just one manager doing this). They haven’t tried this again in that particular area of the business since because it shocked them as they could not simply ignore or explain a group complaint.

    Similarly, if you say OK make me redundant under my contractual terms instead of agreeing new weaker terms, the company generally doesn’t like it as they don’t want to pay out, and then they start overloading people with work and bullying managers start their egos off and then they start nit picking at “historic” decisions by having post mortems on things from years ago knowing full well people may have left who could be called upon as witnesses etc or to say they made the decision. Extra stress for employees there to try and prove things.

    A lot of people that don’t work for a large company or corporation do not realise the abuse that is going on out there and a lot of ignorant views on it just being about salary increase.

    1. Bob says:

      Then you have no idea what the current terms and the new terms are. If you did, you’d see the new terms are better than most companies have. The old terms are beyond sustainable.

      The company has to change to be able to invest in the future so that it actually has a future at all.

      If there is a strike, workers won’t get paid for that time (union bosses will still be paid of course), the company won’t budge because it can’t. The other companies will be putting fibre in the ground and connecting our customers to it while theBT militants wander the streets in some miguided solidarity

  19. A Engineer says:

    So sad to see a giant British company in taters. It used to give good technical jobs to young school leavers. Now the new starters are on 20k a year and are have no realistic job prospects. I started on BT in 2000 on 20k. Sad for the youngsters . Management people are brought in from places that have no clue about engineering.Telling engineers to just lash up jobs to get them over the line and get completes. Look after the network and the network will look after you is what they should be saying. Just people abusing the network which was paid for by the taxpayer to get there stats so they get their bonus then move on to another company leaving BT in a bigger mess than before they came. Engineering company’s should be run by engineers.

    1. Network Grad says:

      Do you still work for BT or was it like that years ago?

      I started at BT on a network graduate scheme straight after uni and what a mistake it was. Fortunately I found a job elsewhere that allows me to learn so much more about engineering. I didn’t even complete my grad scheme.

  20. The Truth says:

    The whole company is an absolute joke and so is their bribe of £1000. Some areas are not even entitled to it, like me. I have worked throughout the pandemic and been classed as a “key worker”, which was embarrassing to start with when I work in a sales role. To be now told no pay rise and no £1000 as you are in a business sales role. Really? Very unfair and bias. Also, fixing their shares by giving us £500, which you can’t touch until after 3 years. The way things are going, no one will last the 3 years. After working for them for nearly 14 years my salary is actually less than a new joiner. There is so much I could write about the BT/EE company. The company are bullies, slave drivers, very unsupportive, patronising, robbing and physically made me so ill I ended up in hospital seeking help.. the list goes on..

  21. Therealtruth says:

    Complete bollocks.

  22. Aunty Woke says:

    The fact of the matter is BT makes a profit, not as much as they would like but name any company that does! Bemoaning the fact that jobs in unrelated worthless occupations have been lost/furloughed is irrelevant. BT/OR are essential workers and deserve a pay-rise that at least meets inflation. Those that chose to kiss behind the school bike sheds instead of studying then ended up in a dead-end lowly paid job can only blame themselves. This is a race to the bottom from a company that deludes itself of being a top 25 employer!

    1. BT Employee says:

      The leadership in BT is full of delusions

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