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Best offer you’ll get without more strikes, BT staff told

CWU, the communications union, says the pay award negotiated with BT Group is the best employees can expect and “strongly recommends” it is approved at a ballot scheduled for mid-December.

In an email to members – seen by us – the union said it “strongly recommends that you vote to accept the proposal, as it is the maximum that can be achieved by negotiation leverage via the industrial action.

“The proposed agreement is the company’s final position,” it added in the missive to tens of thousands of BT engineers and call center operators among its membership. This follows eight days of strikes over pay – the first nationwide action by BT workers since 1987.

At the center of the dispute is the £1,500 pay award BT made in April without consulting the CWU. The union and BT members were asking for a 10 percent rise to keep pace with the cost of living. In protest, some 26,000 Openreach engineers and BT call center workers voted for industrial action and it took place between July and October.

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The strike impacted 40,000 customer’s broadband connections in BT’s most recent quarter ended September 30.

BT agreed to get back round the table with the CWU last month, and the latest offer comprises a £1,500 fully consolidated and pensionable pay rise, payable monthly from January 1, 2023. This, the CWU said, means staff would get a £250 per month rise from the start of next year due to a combination of both pay awards.

The union said the hourly rate of pay would rise because the award is consolidated, and this would run into overtime and bank holiday premium payments, as well as bonuses.

The next pay review period would move to September 1 to “allow for a period of negotiations on long-standing discussions to resolve all current unagreed pay and grading issues,” the CWU said.

According to CWU calculations, the pay rises equate to between 6.68 percent and 14.78 percent for BT workers. The changes are applicable to 85 percent of BT Group’s workforce, however, not everyone in the rank and file is happy with the outcome of the CWU’s negotiations.

One engineer told us he would be voting no to the negotiated pay settlement later this month. “Everyone should get the same percentage rise, they [BT] are deliberately dividing the workforce. It’s a disgusting way for a company of this size to behave.”

Others are worried the latest pay offer will be tied to another cost cutting initiative that BT embarked on this year, and some are annoying that after losing pay to go on strike, the new deal will not be backdated.

Others are skeptical about the date for the next review.

So will peace break out between some workers and BT management before Christmas is upon us? We find out next week. ®




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