BT looks back on the course of its first strike in over 33 years. The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which is still actively considering a national strike, has warned that its actions could have “massive effects” on broadband connections and speeds across the UK. To prevent the strike from continuing, BT this week proposed a “special bonus” of £ 1,500 to £ 59,000 on the front lines across the country to recognize their tremendous efforts to keep people connected.
Under the latest plan, BT would hand over £ 1,000 in cash to workers, while the remaining £ 500 would be paid out in shares after three years. According to BT, that bonus is roughly five percent of the average BT salary for its frontline workers. BT ranked it a “generous offer” highlighting that pay has been frozen across the company.
Philip Jansen, CEO of BT Group, said: “BT has made a massive contribution to the national cause over the past year: we have supported the NHS, families and businesses and avoided the use of redundancy or vacation in our response to the pandemic. Our frontline colleagues and key workers were true heroes and kept everyone connected during this most difficult time. BT has delivered for our customers through the dedication of all of our employees, but the pandemic has inevitably affected our financial performance, as has that of most companies. In this context, we need to set priorities and I am determined to do everything in our power to reward our colleagues on the front lines. “
The Communication Workers Union represents around 45,000 BT employees. It was warned that industrial action could have a serious impact on the stability of BT broadband, landline phones and its cellular network. BT also owns and operates EE and Plusnet, which means large volumes could be cut off or slowed down by the strike. With millions of us still working from home and relying on our broadband connection to work, study, or connect with friends and family in the evenings, it couldn’t have been a worse time.
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According to the CWU, the decision was made to hold a national vote on industrial action over “an unprecedented and ongoing attack on job security and hard-won business conditions”. If they passed, the strikes would start in late spring.
The ramifications between the union and BT concern the telecommunications company’s plans to shut down sites across the country over the next few years to focus its activities on 30 locations. This is partly due to BT’s accelerated push towards fiber broadband and 5G networks.
“We didn’t choose this fight,” said CWU Deputy Secretary General Andy Kerr.
“In fact, we have given management every possible opportunity to step back on the sidelines and consistently offered to work in partnership with the company to overcome the challenges ahead – as we have done several times in the decades since privatization.
“However, we are not prepared to accept that the members’ valued job security and the terms and conditions are attacked on several fronts. Long-term colleagues are selected one after the other, simply because a new generation of executives wants to leave their mark.” compulsory dismissals on grounds of the biased principle.
“If BT doesn’t want us to vote, they can get us back to the negotiating table as soon as possible. Our door is still open and we want to settle this dispute, but this will require a big change in the company’s mindset. At this point, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen – and that’s why we are preparing for the fight. “