30,000 BT Openreach engineers and 9,000 BT call-centre workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have voted by 95.8% and 91.5% respectively to take strike action over pay. A BT worker tells the Socialist why they are walking out:

“This was a vote of pure anger. BT workers across every part of the group have made it clear they are fed up with the rubbish pay offers, increasing bullying and pressure from a management that doesn’t care about them or their livelihoods, while the company happily takes more of the profits.

We used to get offered BT shares each year, now that has stopped, while BT management days out, ie piss-ups, increase!

Management have brought foodbanks into offices where workers can donate food and workers can take from, if they are in need – we now call the CEO ‘Foodbank Phil’!

BT thought it had divided the workforce by bringing in new workers in the last few years on lower-paid contracts. They offered them 8%, and older workers on the older, better contracts 2.7% – many of whom have been forced to work at new offices after a massive round of building closures, in most cases adding at least an hour to their commute.

But the raw anger was too strong for BT. Despite many of the office and call centre-based staff now working from home, and in many cases never having met their team in person, they have hit back.

Management thinks that so-called ‘well-done days’ where workers are wined and dined at the Birmingham NEC, will make up for a shoddy pay rise: as the ballot result shows, it won’t!

This anger has been building for years, the mood is there for a fight and there is determination to win.”

Socialist Party members in the CWU have been at the forefront year in year out at the BTFS (telecoms section of the CWU) conference for over ten years, raising the need to ballot on all these issues and build support for a national ballot for strike action. The leadership has been pushed in this direction. That pressure needs to continue to make sure the days are named to bring BT and much of the telecommunication network across the country to a standstill showing who really makes the profits and keeps BT running.

In EE CWU members voted 95.5% in favour of action but fell just eight votes short of the government’s undemocratic threshold.