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BT and Openreach Workers Begin Two Day UK Strike TODAY UPDATE1

Friday, July 29th, 2022 (12:01 am) - Score 6,480
BT-Workers-Strike-in-London-on-29th-July-2022-by-CWU

Up to 38,000 workers at national broadband and communications giant BT (including Openreach) are today beginning day one of their two-day national strike over pay (the first one since 1987), with the second due to take place on Monday next week. So far, BT has shown no sign of giving in to the pressure.

At present, it’s still unclear precisely how many of the unionised workers will actually go on strike. Not all of those eligible to vote actually voted in favour, and the CWU cannot compel members to strike. Nevertheless, tens of thousands of workers do look set to strike, which is inevitably going to cause some very costly disruption for the BT Group and their customers.

NOTE: The strike only includes workers from BT and Openreach, while EE’s c. 2,000 workers fell short of the government’s ballot threshold by just 8 votes.

Meanwhile, the CWU claims that company managers have been “attempting to use misinformation to dissuade workers from taking part” in the planned strike, such as by allegedly telling apprentices that they are not authorised to strike; telling non-union members that their participation is illegal and telling workers that management must be informed of their decision to take strike action.

Ominously, employees in some workplaces have claimed that management intend to keep a register of striking workers, and that threats of offshoring work in areas where the strikes are strong have been made,” added the CWU. But such measures risk further militarising staff, which can sometimes lead to more disruptive industrial action.

Dave Ward, CWU General Secretary, said:

“BT workers have hundreds of picket lines arranged across the UK … and will support the CWU in delivering mass strike action. This dispute sits squarely at the feet of Philip Jansen. He represents 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’re going to get.”

A BT Group spokesperson said:

“While we’re disappointed that the CWU has decided to take industrial action, we respect the decision by their members to take industrial action. We are complying with all legal requirements throughout the industrial action process. We have a responsibility to all of our colleagues, including the many thousands who won’t be taking part in industrial action, and to our customers.

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.”

BT told ISPreview.co.uk that they only expect a limited impact on their network and have confirmed that the emergency 999 service won’t be impacted. The operator already has dedicated business continuity and resilience teams, which they claim will be able to keep any disruption from the strike to a minimum.

In short, the operator’s services will continue to function, but we’d expect essential account and network repair tasks to take priority. Naturally, trying to contact and get a resolution from BT’s support team may also be a bit harder or slower than usual.

As for Openreach, the biggest impact will no doubt be felt in terms of delays to new service provisions (installations), which typically affects hundreds of UK communication providers (ISPs etc.) – catching everything from consumer broadband services to high capacity Ethernet lines and Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA). Any planned but non-essential engineering work will be postponed.

In case anybody has forgotten, all of this stems from a dispute over pay. A few months ago, BT announced that they planned to award workers a £1,500 consolidated pay increase to their annual salaries (up from an original offer of £1,200). The operator said this would be the “largest [pay rise] … in over 20-years” for 58,000 of their UK frontline and Team Member colleagues – representing an increase of up to 8% for some colleagues and more than 3% for even the highest paid frontline workers.

However, the Deputy General Secretary (Telecoms and Financial Services) of the CWU, Andy Kerr, who had previously called for a pay rise of 10% to recognise the “contribution our members have made to the business” (the CWU represents around 40,000 of BT’s workers), rejected the offer and warned that, given the surging level of inflation, it would have represented a “relative pay cut“.

UPDATE 7:51am

Updated the article with the first picture, from the CWU, as staff begin to populate the many picket lines this morning, which have been setup across the UK. One key question will be how many of the operator’s unionised employees actually go on strike today and how many go into work as normal. The CWU often like to suggest that all of their members within BT and Openreach will strike, but in reality some will not.

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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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53 Responses
  1. Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

    Of course they want a register. Strikers are basically saying “I won’t abide by my contract”. If a customer did that, they’d throw the book at them, so why on earth would they accept it from employees? But BT can only sue once it knows who they are. At the very least, it should be deducting those days not actually worked from tenure.

    1. Fastman says:

      100% that will be happending — it certainly did in 1986 strike

    2. Mike says:

      Socialists once again to blame, using the state to gain an unfair advantage.

  2. Peter says:

    Good on them, People need to stand up in this current climate! Sick of all these corps not paying their staff a properly

    1. Matt says:

      How is a pay increase of 8% not paying people what their worth? most people seem to be getting around 4%, so between 3 and 8% is excellent. If people aren’t happy generally with their pay deal usually they go get a job somewhere else.

      I don’t understand the logic of some people, if I was one of their workers getting ~8% I would not be voting to strike…

    2. Peter says:

      It’s not 8% it was a fixed 1500, They haven’t been getting a yearly wage rise, this is the point.
      Some people actually like there job and want to be paid accordingly and not jump around

    3. Mike says:

      If you don’t like the contract, negotiate a new one or leave, don’t use the state to unjustly enforce your will on others.

    4. Mr. Afrikaans says:

      @mike

      That’s not really possible now, is it? It’s exactly why so many staff are standing up. Collectively they’re more likely to be heard.

      Be realistic. Do you honestly believe that the average member of staff can say, “I’m not happy, I need to/would like to renegotiate my contract”. They’d be laughed out of the office, reprimanded or even fired. If only workers had that sort of power on an individual level!

      It’s moronic to make statements that are borderline facetious sounding like that!

    5. Mike says:

      @Mr. Afrikaans

      Then they aren’t worth more…

    6. Connor says:

      @Mike This is them negotiating, obviously BT/Openreach said no so they’re using their massive leverage of witholding labour, saying this isn’t a valid option is like arguing “if you don’t like this country so leave”, they are doing this because they like their company and their job but there’s things that need to be improved.

      I’m sure you can survive two days to allow workers to fight for better work standards.

  3. Jason says:

    Well done to the staff at BT and Openreach . That company can well
    afford to pay you what your worth

  4. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

    As someone who worked in Telecoms for over 30 years, I’ll be very surprised if this strike has a significant impact on BT. For the last 20 years Telecom companies have regularly used Network Freezes, over Christmas and during events like the Olympics, to reduce access to Network sites which in turn reduces the number of Network faults dramatically.
    BT will probably restrict Engineering activity to service affecting faults only, and stop any provisioning work for the strike days.
    There’s nothing ominous about keeping a register of striking workers, since many of the striking workers wont be in jobs requiring them to clock in to work, and BT will possibly look at stopping pay and pension contributions for striking workers, for days on strike.
    BT/Openreach will possibly lose a couple of days of FTTP rollout, but it’ll be less than they’d lose over Christmas and bank holidays, so insignificant in my opinion.

    1. Fastman says:

      BT will possibly look at stopping pay and pension contributions for striking workers, for days on strike.

      i utterly expect the above to be the case it was in 1986 as my record when i retired still had 3 days non pensionable service from the 1986 Strike (it was in the CWU for about 6 months before that dispute and left soon afterwards my grade actually being worse off after than before — all i got told was think of the bigger picture — , next day is resigned CWU or what is was called then

      will be really interesting to see what the impact is on the business if any

  5. Life in 2022 says:

    The CWU are the biggest users of misinformation, they are a left wing union not working for its members but solely for the Labour Party.

    1. Southside’s Leased Line says:

      Care to provide any examples? I assume you’re a Conservative voter (full disclosure: I’m a Labour voter and member) but open to seeing evidence of what you say. Plenty of people throw accusations around rooting them in party politics.

    2. Life in 2022 says:

      @Southside’s Leased Line

      You sure about the full discloser as you forgot the words ‘activist’, ‘lefty’, and ‘socialist’.

    3. Che was gay. says:

      You also forgot the words

      * Constantly right
      * Morally and intellectually superior (at least in their heads)
      * Social Justice Warrior
      * Anti democratic
      * Destroyer of values British people hold dear.

      Aren’t the left lovely. They sure like pretending they’re the ones in power and were voted for. Despite neither being true. Then they wonder why nobody votes for them when all they can do is produce bile and hatered towards anyone who actually works for a living or isn’t prepared to kneel down in front of a bunch of Marxist thugs.

    4. Alex A says:

      @Life in 2022 and @Che was gay.

      They are open to listen to examples, being hostile towards a perfectly nice person makes you seem the entitled ones.

    5. Riley says:

      Alex, it’s the sort of drivel we see constantly from the left. Oh you voted Brexit, then you must be over 60 a gammon, racist, a xenophobe daily mail reader etc. It couldn’t possibly be because I dunno they didn’t want laws written by Brussels. Nope. Racist, it’s the only possibility. 17m racist. That’s the entire left argument about Brexit.

      Now on to your suggestion they’re a great person and we’re not. Their comment was essentially the same as a reddit “Source ?” post, except with the added “ah you’re a conservative voter” to boot. Insinuating that the OP isn’t telling the truth etc, because they are assumed to be a conservative.

      Loaded question. With a snide hidden remark which passed you by obviously.

    6. Southside's Leased Line says:

      @Life in 2022, @Che was gay and @Riley
      I’m certainly no activist, pretty centre-ground and socialist is a stretch (Blairite is a better fit).
      * Constantly right? Nope.
      * Superior morals and intellect? Nope, I have my views, my colleagues and friends have theirs which we happily discuss down the pub with no punches thrown – from Brexit to economic policy to party politics to autopsies after elections.
      * SJW? Hahahah god no.
      * Anti-democratic? No idea how you got that one from simply being a Labour voter
      * “Destroyer of values British people hold dear”? I don’t think so.

      Riley – on snide remark, no. That wasn’t the intention, my apologies if it came across that way. The line the OP used is similar to what the PM said in PMQs a few weeks ago, and is repeated a fair bit by Tory MPs, hence my assumption on voting preference.

      My original question was literally where has OP seen this? I haven’t and was genuinely interested.

      Rather unfortunately, politics has become very polarised because of narratives out there all across the political spectrum. That’s not my Labour-voting take, that’s my Politics BA and MA take. I’d happily buy you both a pint or three down the pub to discuss politics and find common ground. There often is plenty.

    7. Mike says:

      Socialists often opt for underhanded tactics when they can’t get their way.

  6. FibreBubble says:

    Up the workers.

    Jansen has failed. He has failed customers with monster increases in prices. He has failed shareholders with share price collapsed under his watch and he has failed staff deliberately provoking a strike through imposition rather than negotiation.

    The only thing Jansen has done is reward himself for his failure. Lining his pockets with £3.5Million pay package this year.

    1. ... says:

      Yeah ‘up the workers’

      Such a stupid thing to say, this strike will speed up the shift of back office jobs to India

    2. The witcher says:

      You can bet he doesn’t feed his family horse meat.

  7. Jack says:

    Matt, it wasn’t 8% it was £1500 across the board for all workers.
    So its less the more you earn.

    Only cleaners see it as 8%

    1. Matt says:

      I appreciate it’s less the more you earn. But people employed were happy with the salary previously, no?

      If you don’t like the wage rise (3% seems to be the average yearly according to 2022 data) then change job. The higher paid you are the more likely it is your work is skilled so go leverage them elsewhere and make them pay to keep you. It’s not like there aren’t huge amounts of investment in telecoms happening right now.

    2. peter says:

      Matt, 3% yearly you say but the thing is they weren’t getting a yearly wage rise. This is the point!

    3. Matt says:

      Peter, then more fool them for allowing that each year?

    4. T says:

      It’s not less the more you earn. If you’re over a certain salary you get the full 1.5k. If your salary got brought up to whatever level it is on your department at the beginning of the year, you get whatever is left over from the 1.5k. I.E if your salary was 19.4k and got brought to 20k in Jan, you’d be on 20.9k now. Ots actually the less you earn the less you get. Rightly so as new starters shouldn’t be on the pay existing employees are on based when gaining performance based pay rises. As an employee I understand why people are on strike. However contact centre based jobs are paid well compared to competitors like Sky. The grass certainly isn’t greener elsewhere which is why it bugs me that so much more is expected. A lot of the employees I know of striking are the ones who expect their arses wiped and not to put the effort in for performance pay rises.

  8. anonymous says:

    Too many companies don’t want to pay the workers but their management team at the top and shareholders get their usual over inflation slice.

    Allied to Boris telling any Gov agencies not to pay anything over 1% because it made the inflation look bad for them if they did.

    Wonder if the MPS will award themselves a generous helping from the trough this year and next year to their salaries via the so-called “independent committee” ?

  9. Scott says:

    Jansen is a disrupter and he was supposed to be a savvy operator. The argument he has frequently put forward is that BT Group will return to growth and once that is evident then pay/reward will improve.

    This is a strong hand to play IMO – it’s about showing control. I think it has worked an an investor level however given the proclamation that Q1 was good and the full year prediction that BT is returning to growth the lack of self awareness by Jansen and the board to support staff is shocking.

    If they had any level of common sense they should have been offering to come back to the table to offer a one off mid winter support payment. If wages can’t be increased a discretionary payment is more than possible.

  10. Mr C says:

    The old chairman could see this coming, that’s why he was removed and replaced with the guy who resided over the post office scandal. Mr Jansens comments in the FT yesterday where very telling. His contempt for the staff aside, his ridiculous 32% pay increase that he seems to ignore, his comment ‘that the union should be ‘more worried about the future’ is code for once the dirty work has been done then OR will be sold. That’s his business plan, and he thinks he’s a genius. No body mentions during his short tenure he’s managed to shave another £1 off the share price, and don’t forget the huge price increases for customers , because we simply had to with the rate of inflation .

    For a lot of people this isn’t about a pay rise, it’s how they are treated by these scandalous companies/CEO’s . The negativity in the comments here are born out of jealousy. I never got a pay rise, why should you?

    Come October the country will be at a tipping point. It’s the rich or the poor, which side will you be on ? Are you willing to take it or will you stand up and say enough is enough?

    Save your comments about left wing, right wing, i don’t give a shit. It’s about what’s right. It’s about standing up and saying , no mate , i’m not having that . Looking in the news about how many companies staff feel the same way , how many strikes are on the horizon , it looks as though i’m not the one who’s had enough.

    1. Matt says:

      “The negativity in the comments here are born out of jealousy. I never got a pay rise, why should you?”

      OK, Everyone gets 10% pay rises this year!

      Good luck buying anything, or doing anything, or achieving anything with crippling inflation (See Zimbabwe, 100% payrises and 132% inflation).

      You just end up chasing something unattainable. Knee-jerk economics don’t work how you think they do.

      What would make more sense is CEOs/Shareholders taking a pay/bonus/dividend hit at the same time. People are kicking off about Jansen earning so much (£3.5m?) but its about £1.1m in Salary. I’d strongly recommend looking what Virgin pay their CEO/Exec team, and you’ll see its small fry. Jansen’s is mostly stock also, which BT Group has steadily declined and is worth half what it was 5 years ago.

      As before, no one is forcing these people to work for BT/EE. If you’re not happy with your compensation, shop around.

  11. Angry Anon says:

    Going against the grain (don’t care). Waaah company makes profits for CEO and shareholders. Wow, you know that’s what they’re supposed to do right? Millions of people are in the same boat. They didn’t get inflation meeting payrises, or no payrises whatsoever. They didn’t however decide well lets screw the customer by not doing any work. I’m sorry you angry Openreach lot who barely do anything anyway are upset about pay. Boohoo. You and 30 million other people in the UK. Don’t like it? Find a better job instead of all these strikes, because you don’t hurt the companies with your silly strikes do you? Like XR and Insulate Britain and all the other misguided Marxist organisations – the impact is felt by the people, not the big fatcat bosses. So nice going there. God I can’t wait until Openreach and BT are gone.

    1. Fastman says:

      what planet are you on really !!!!

      do wonder about the sdanity level of some on this forum !!!!

    2. Silent Bob says:

      pretty sure it’s a wind up designed to illicit a response from someone. just ignore them.

    3. John says:

      XR and insulate Britain and Stop Oil are all under the same umbrella of commies that take funds from the CCP, the WEF and Russia to destabilize the UK and promote the globalist agenda

  12. Jimmy Reid says:

    Predictable mixture of corporate cuckolds and halfwits frothing about marxism – something none of them could correctly define, no doubt. This forum needs to better screen the Daily Mail reply bots and leave us with the flaccid corporate apologists.

    1. Mr. Afrikaans says:

      A lot of sex metaphors there. Bit frustrated by the sounds of it.

  13. Mr C says:

    “What would make more sense is CEOs/Shareholders taking a pay/bonus/dividend hit at the same time”

    That’s right Matt, but they haven’t, have they ? I don’t give 2 sh**s what’s happening at Virgin , they don’t have a union hence the obscene amounts of money the CEO’s get. They need to stand up for themselves, like I/we are doing.

    Angry/anon…..the jealously is strong with you my friend. ‘Find a better job’ Such a lazy BS response. No thanks mate. I already have a good job, i prefer to fight to make it better. And the do nothing comment , that’s priceless.

  14. Anonymous Coward says:

    Comments are total cringe. Crazy people banging on about Marxists. Openreach engineers pretending their company didn’t sit on their arse for 30 years until the altnets came along and gave em a giant wake up call. The engineers should get better pay. But why are they so special like train workers? Oh wait, someone else said it’s wrong of me to wonder why.

    1. Fastman says:

      that utter trot as well

      i assume you not worked in a telecomms organisation then !!!!

    2. Something Strange says:

      For some reason all striking workers think they have public support, they don’t and they are just up their own arses if they think they do.

  15. PW says:

    Strikes are legal in this country (under the right conditions). If the union/workforce wants to go on strike they are entitled to.

    Whether it is justified or effective is really a matter of opinion, not fact.

    AS many people have pointed out BT workers are free to go and get another job, but they are also free to go on strike.

  16. Bill says:

    and the public notice absolutely zero difference in service delivery whatsoever, heck the standard might go up……..
    Openretch are a disgrace, staff think they work at British Leyland and thus can do as they please, company has no interest whatsoever about customer service and seem to think they will ALWAYS be the dominant player and thus can carry on acting like the GPO of the 70s….
    Long overdue OR was shut down and its assets sold off to the highest bidder or divided amongst other operators.

    1. Fastman says:

      Really

      i assume you have a specific issue with something or you wanted to do something that was outside of the rules and openreach said no

  17. Ruth Burden says:

    I am regretting becoming a BT customer and am livid with the service I have been given. Today I was meant to be being connected to BT and the engineers didn’t turn up, after being told I would get a phone call to say what had gone wrong I had to ring them back to get answers. The reason I was let down was due to this strike. I have been penalised due to lack of staff working today and I am really not happy that this has happened. Whether staff are striking or not it should not have impacted the service they say they give and I now have to wait till Monday for another appointment to be given. This is an absolute disgrace and I will be making sure I get compensation for this awful service.

    1. Truth says:

      Did they mention that there was also a strike on Monday , Ruth?

    2. Kinsman says:

      You must be the only missed appointment in the country as Mr Jansen said he had 25,000 contractors on standby to plug the gaps.

    3. Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

      If it is unlawful you have the right to apply for an injunction, but a) it probably isn’t, at this point, and b) it’s likely to be over before any court case gets heard. https://www.gov.uk/stopping-industrial-action-citizens-rights

  18. The truth says:

    I believe Ruth isn’t Ruth and quite possibly isn’t telling the truth lol.

  19. Steven says:

    Given that it open reach who work for most land line companies (apart from a few fibre set up) I think Ruth shows the basic lack of knowledge of this industry.
    And to add to comments made earlier is this a race to the bottom we all take no pay rises we all land up worst off. No we stand together to make it better for all.Bt put prices up by inflation plus 3.9 percent ( other companies soon followed suit )this was to cover cost this includes pay rises now that full amount is not being passed on is more the point also.

  20. ada7 says:

    On the subject of contractors BT / openreach use 10’000 contractors , for maintenance and as part of the Fibre rollout. Again its a source of friction with the CWU who having to defend BT staff in employment tribunerals for minor safety infractions or mistakes then see barely supervised contractors get away without gas testing , correct safety equipment or road works guarding. Its the Railtrack defence for BT until a cluster of overdue accidents brings the house down ,and when it does you can be sure the buck wont stop at the top.Jansen etc
    I recall an incident where cable thieves used replica lorries, traffic lights and correct road works guarding to appear genuine to steal cable from the ground and around the same time a local FTTC contractor was spotted making cable joints in the back of his private estate car parked next to the Cabinet , not a cone in sight.

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