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BT and CWU Reopen Negotiations Over Pay Dispute After UK Strikes

Friday, Nov 4th, 2022 (1:56 pm) - Score 6,624

BT has re-entered negotiations with the Communications Workers Union (CWU) to hopefully settle the ongoing pay dispute with up to 38,000 employees, which has so far resulted in 8 days worth of national UK strikes. The move comes only a day after the operator’s CEO, Philip Jansen, described the matter as “closed” and seemed to reject further talks.

The core dispute relates to BT’s pledge to award workers a £1,500 consolidated pay increase to their annual salaries earlier this year (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.

NOTE: Recent strikes included workers from BT (up to 10,000 – mostly call centre staff) and Openreach (up top 30,000 – mostly broadband engineers), while EE’s 2,000 workers fell short of the ballot threshold and did not take part.

However, the Deputy General Secretary 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”, rejected the offer and warned that, given the surging level of inflation, it would have represented a “relative pay cut“. Kerr also noted that BT’s CEO had, at the same time as all this was occurring, awarded himself a 32% pay increase.

A string of strikes has since followed the failure to reach an agreement, and meanwhile inflation has continued to surge and is now expected to remain higher for longer than previously forecast. The expectation has been that a much longer and potentially more damaging wave of strikes would soon follow, possibly around Christmas, which might be something that BT would want to avoid or, at least, delay.

Dave Ward, CWU General Secretary, said:

“The overwhelming, strike action that you have taken in your fight for a fair pay rise is making a difference. It has got us back into discussions with BT this week with a view to seeking a resolution to our dispute. We are in the process of setting up further meetings with the company next week.

We will keep you updated with any progress made and in the event of reaching a proposed way forward, we will put this to you for you to vote via a consultative ballot. Stay strong and united and together we will win!”

In a brief statement, BT confirmed that they “are in discussion with the CWU – as we have been throughout” and said that the talks would be “focused on building a unified and positive direction for the whole company“. The operator noted the challenging economic situation, but said they “remain hopeful that we can agree a way forward.”

However, it’s difficult to square this language with Philip Jansen’s tough talk only a day earlier, which suggests that reaching any kind of solid agreement could be difficult. At the same time, yesterday’s results also indicated that there could be more job losses further down the line, thus it may be wise for the operator to settle this dispute sooner rather than later.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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56 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:

    Reading between the lines, the talks will be more about the recently telegraphed job cuts rather than the 2022 pay award. The statement, “focused on building a unified and positive direction for the whole company“, suggests it’s less about pay and more about future changes within the company.

  2. Avatar photo Mike says:

    Communist Workers Union.

    1. Avatar photo PeteJ says:

      Stop reading the Daily Mail Mike it rots your brain

    2. Avatar photo Bob says:

      I guess you are only too happy with your relative pay cut this year then?

    3. Avatar photo CWU are a waste of space says:

      Terrible union, I would not want them going into bat for me.

    4. Avatar photo Pablo says:

      BT had communist hiring policies, ispreview had an article about it not long ago, now they are reaping what they’ve sowed

      Honestly we’ve been in a recession since July. It is expected and normal to have job losses following a recession. These strikers only open themselves up to be at the front line to lose their jobs

  3. Avatar photo Mr Happy says:

    Royal Mail and now BT announce job cuts following ongoing strike action, be careful when you poke the hornets’ nest while taking on your employer for a couple more quid.

    1. Avatar photo Bob says:

      Genius logic! Let’s just all accept real terms reductions in pay rises then. And when we do move on, for whatever reason, you are guaranteed to always learn less.

      I honestly don’t how people get to be so ignorant when it comes to real-term pay rises. Without IT MAKES YOU POORER! Why do you want to be poorer?

    2. Avatar photo PeteJ says:

      They will make job cuts wether you are taking part in industrial action or not

    3. Avatar photo Mr Happy says:

      @Bob will they be any better off once you account for the cost of going on strike.

    4. Avatar photo Mr hard worker who understands why we work in the first place says:

      Year after year people’s wages have fallen behind inflation, as have terms.. its a bit basic and empty headed to say people should just take what they are given for their time and hard work, everything we buy has gone up by 10%+ recently, why don’t people like you tell them not to raise the prices? The workers have exactly the same problems with expenses but expect to take the hit.. how about we all work for free and beg for food eh?
      You’re obviously well off and would gladly back slave labour

    5. Avatar photo Bob says:

      @Mr Happy If striking doesn’t work, then why is it still a thing? The answer is… it clearly works. Or at least it works more often than it doesn’t. There is the money in BT to pay people fairly, the CEOs package clearly highlights that.

      And I ask you, why settle for a real term pay cut. Why do you WANT to be poorer?

  4. Avatar photo jet14 says:

    How about boycotting Ms Jenson, with all that pay rise he getting for sitting in office all day, idiot should not get payrise rather be taken off ceo post!!!!

    1. Avatar photo Its not hard says:

      You not from this green and pleasant land with sentences like that. If you are you should be back in school.

    2. Avatar photo Scott says:

      “Its not hard” – lay off the unnecessary comments. It’s a bit much to criticise someone when your own sentence structure and grammar in your response are not much better.

    3. Avatar photo Its not hard says:

      @Scott – Too many do-gooders around these days allowing the English identity to be eroded.

    4. Avatar photo John Do says:

      Rather than strike. As BT Shareholders you can vote for a change in command. Get Reid of the guy who pays himself enough to ensure less job cuts and ensure that BT workers get paid fairly. The people that kept the country running during the pandemic certainly wasn’t the guy at the top. It was the frontline staff. If enough people strike BT will be like the government and miraculously find the money. The people at the top are greedy for greeds sake!

  5. Avatar photo Jason says:

    I hope the staff get what they deserve and Phillip Jansen resigns

  6. Avatar photo bob says:

    i hope all the strikers get the sack selfish greedy c**Ts sooner 5G is rolled out everywhere in the uk the better as bt openreach and virgin media 02 are ancient hopefully elon musk takes over the whole world isps.

    1. Avatar photo Jason says:

      I dont think you realise that Openreach provide the fibre links for most mobile connectivity masts …..

    2. Avatar photo Bob says:

      Almost complete sentences there. Well done.

    3. Avatar photo Doubleagent2022 says:

      Couldn’t careless about the lazy dossers who strike as there slowing the uk down including trains and royal mail

      I don’t have any sympathy who strike sorry not happy with your job and wages get 4 jobs …. I do agree with tories with this one .even though I hate and despise the tories.

    4. Avatar photo PeteJ says:

      Go and have a lie down Bob and make sure you have taken your medication

    5. Avatar photo ronnie says:

      More work for less pay mate. How is it greedy wanting a increase inline with inflation?

    6. Avatar photo Polecat says:

      5G is just about in every city, town and village anyway. Or havent you noticed Bob? Good luck trying to run your entire household off a 5G phone by the way

    7. Avatar photo Doubleagent2022 says:

      I am already using 4G plus on my 5G router on EE I’m getting 450 mbps as I’m in a 4G plus area. So my family sorted .

    8. Avatar photo Paul Simple says:

      They same selfish C***ts that worked through a pandemic and kept the country and the company they slaved for still going!

      I know where your head is! It’s up your..se!

      Yeah, Elon Musk is doing a fine job at twitter, let’s see if you can get a job there.

  7. Avatar photo Rich says:

    If BT hadn’t put their prices up over 10% this year, and if they didn’t feel like they deserve rpi+3.9% from their customers automatically, every year, I might have some sympathy.

    As it is, pay your staff.

  8. Avatar photo Terence Devlin says:

    It’s obvious to me slot of people that comment on these platforms neither work for either BT or Royal Mail and certainly don’t understand unions.What a mess we’d be in,if we took their advice and didn’t fight for our jobs T/C’s .

    1. Avatar photo CWU are a waste of space says:

      These strikes are politically motivated by a left-wing union. They don’t care about their members its all about what they can do for the Labour party.

      This reminds me of Putin telling the Russian people he is doing the special operation in Ukraine for them, who is he or the CWU trying to kid.

    2. Avatar photo Wilson says:

      More like we understand the economy and that it is insane to raise salaries during a recession

      Personally I hope BT would die off faster

    3. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      No, think it’s more of an ideological thing.

      Wages make up a far smaller proportion of the economy than they used to and as a result the middle and working classes are poorer. The wealthy have been increasingly taking the value produced by the labour of others and keeping it for themselves. Executive compensation is ridiculous, stock buybacks to boost that compensation distasteful.

      Some correction to this during a period of high inflation would be good. It’d be beneficial to the country as a whole, too. Income tax thresholds at the bottom are high as wages are so dire a bunch of people can’t afford to pay income tax and live leaving the suckers on PAYE to pick up more of the tab due to fiscal drag while those taking unearned income are golden.

      Whether recession or boom one group always seems to do best and recover fastest. Doesn’t seem unfair to expect them, not the working and middle class, to take some pain.

      A one-off cost of living payment and a reasonable rise seems a good idea, with further rises on the table depending on inflation.

    4. Avatar photo John says:

      Comrade XGS so close to understanding tax cuts are needed in order for wages to go up and for people to keep more of what they earn, but then argues for socialist money handouts which worked great in Venezuela !!

  9. Avatar photo PeteJ says:

    @Wilson try telling that to Foodbank Phil with 32% raise

    1. Avatar photo Its not hard says:

      Boohoo, you idiots who keep going on about the pay rise for the BT CEO.

    2. Avatar photo Rogan8 says:

      Time is running out for PJ. Nearly 4 years in and he he doesn’t have much of a legacy to leave with. Give him 12 months tops then BT will be shopping for a new CEO.

    3. Avatar photo Scott says:

      @ Rogan8 – Jansen made his name and fortune at Worldpay but that was effectively a business maturing in a new market. It didn’t have the legacy issues to deal with. IMO he lucked out. With BT (in the post Gavin Patterson era) he’s struggled to make change happen quickly and because it seems a bit slow it almost feels like it’s not much of a legacy at all.

      That said – It’s arguable that there is a significant change to BT. From the closure of countless offices and the emergence of strategic hubs for different parts of the business to the major push to kill legacy networks and migrate to all IP. BT’s consumer offering is all about to change under the EE banner (That’s a legacy in it’s own right).

      Jansen’s biggest folly is his lack of appreciating staff right now just want the company to give them some form of additional support after supporting the company during Covid. His “we’re in this together” message stopped when the free shares offering he re-instated was stopped.

      If they do go shopping around to replace him – I’d be surprised if Mark Allera didn’t get a shot. He is leading EE front and centre and what BT Group might look for going forward.

  10. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    Nobody wins strikes and BT are not winning by increasing workstacks, lengthy appointment queues and having to expend management effort dealing with strikes rather than dealing with the important stuff.

    BT made a massive mistake by imposing rather than negotiating with the union. I would expect it is a mistake they will not be quick to repeat.

    The BT staff have overwhelmingly backed the union. BT staff are not known for being militant left wing communists. They have not had national strikes since 1987 which is probably long before many staff and indeed many ispreview commentators were born.

    Nobody wins strikes. Let’s hope we get an agreement.

    1. Avatar photo PeteJ says:

      You are correct but you only have to read the comments from the resident tories to see that the basic right to withdraw your Labour is too much for them to handle.

    2. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      not sure why you think the majority have backed the union — it feels like the actual opposite not that maay are in the CWU compared to the mount of team member grades in the business – i stopped being in the union after the strike in the 1980s ended up worse of in the deal they agreed and lost strike days – got told by union all about the bigger picture

      the foodbank phil is just a soundbyte from people who ought o know better
      CEO Remumeration is a matter for shareholders

      there are many more telecomms companies out there other than openreach

    3. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

      Sorry, Fasty. Read this you posted the other day and filed you under crazy make believe.

      “i would assume it probably way less that 1 in 10 that actually on industrial action ……. probably because not that many are now actually even in the CWU”

      In the real world BT are back at the table due to the strikes.

    4. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      fibre bubble

      i did 36 years in the business before retiring at quite a senior level so i know what im talking about ((now now working for myself) there are not that many team members are actually in CWU and very few managers are in CWU – i was in the union for only 2 of my 36 years career in the company — only interested in there own political ends

    5. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

      Fasty. The problem with your made up stuff is when it bumps into reality.

      Around 40,000 ballot papers were issued to members in BT Group. So it is clear that the overwhelming majority are in the union and it is clear that the majority voted for industrial action.

      Managers are not represented by the CWU. I would have thought that someone so ‘experienced and senior’ would have known that.

    6. Avatar photo We do have opinions says:

      @FibreBubble Its your way or the highway like normal, others do have opinions and believe it or not they are sometimes right. Rather than living in your own little world you could join the rest of us in the real world.

    7. Avatar photo PeteJ says:

      @fastman considering you said you did 36 years and some at senior level it beggars belief that you didn’t know management grades are not represented by the CWU as they have their own union. Me thinks your a liar and a tory , what a surprise as they go hand in hand.

    8. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      fibre bubble

      there are significantly more that 40000 team members that the number of ballots papers so not majority think i head something around 8000 took action thats less that 1/4 of the number of ballots issued — so your view does not stack up — the CWU only want to futher its political aims ans is using BT people to do that(which is why i left the CWU (or its precedecessor) in 1987 — i know who i am (as do a number of subscribers on here) no idea who you are but you seem to have a very one sided view of world (incorrectly i might add)

      interesting to know your actual understanding of this

    9. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

      Fasty. Your problem is that these things are easily verifiable.

      So when for example, Openreach declare they employ a total of 37,000 people and the CWU issue over 28,000 ballot papers to non management grades, it is easy to see that you are making stuff up.

    10. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      pete some new managers retain their cwu some managers went to prospect id did neither — i was also an 802 as well (what my political allegiance is nether here or there

      i assume you know what an 802 is

    11. Avatar photo We do have opinions says:

      @Fastman better to ask that question of @FibreBubble as he seems to think he knows everything.

  11. Avatar photo Mansinor says:

    The talks with the unions will mainly be about mutual redundancies of staff, those willing to go with a package, it makes no sense now to increase the wages when we’re looking to make more savings of five hundred million, in the long run we will benefit because the alnets will struggle and will have to be bought out, its no secret that BT isn’t worried about the alnets because they won’t be around in 10 years which by then the fiber rollout will be finished with most of the copper gone you will only need half the staff we got now.

    1. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      hhmmm not sure why you think re alt nets

  12. Avatar photo jet14 says:

    @its not hard, You couldn’t handle my direct hard straight comment about your uncle jensen and bt, sorry but there is unfairness in the whole industry and landscape.

    1. Avatar photo Its not hard says:

      You still havent comprehended that you need to click on Reply next to the root comment you want to respond too. If you can’t understand basic English you really shouldnt be here. Does the 14 on the end of your username identify your age?

    2. Avatar photo jet14 says:

      @uncle hard, thanks for your reply and concern, but no reply button next to your comments so had to do it this way. All the best nothing personal.

    3. Avatar photo Its not hard says:

      Well done @Jet14 you finally managed to find the Reply button next to the root comment. Try doing this in the future and also checking your sentences and you may get a gold star from @auntie hard

  13. Avatar photo Dis A Leg says:

    Andy Kerr took the cwu branches on a call on Friday to tell them BT had offered a cost of living payment which the union have rejected as not consolidated. The recording of the call is going about. We are going to get greedy and get nothing

Comments are closed

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