Summer of strikes continues as Paisley communications workers down tools

The hot summer of strikes continued today as members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) walked out over what they described as management’s “blatant contempt for workers and customers alike.”

BT and Openreach workers picketed sites across Scotland, including in Paisley at BT’s premises on Clark Street.

The CWU say the strike is the result of the real terms wage cut from bosses, saying some members are reliant on food banks to get by.

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The strike began hours after the release of the company’s latest quarterly results which showed £400m profit in the first quarter, on top of the £1.3bn achieved in the last financial year.

CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr hit out at BT bosses, saying: ““Announcing hundreds of millions of pounds in profit on the eve of the first national strike since 1987 smacks of arrogance and complete contempt for frontline workers.

“This dispute sits squarely at the feet of BT Group CEO Philip Jansen and the Board. They represent 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 are going to get.”

BT, who say that they won’t be reopening pay negotiations, say that they offered a pay increase of £1,500 per year to staff, which they say represents a pay rise of around five per cent on average and eight per cent for the lowest paid. This means that the lowest paid would have gone from earning around £19,500 per year to £21,000 per year. The higher end earners from around £30,000 to £31,500.

A BT Group spokesperson said: “At the start of this year, we were in exhaustive discussions with the CWU that lasted for two months, trying hard to reach an agreement on pay. When it became clear that we were not going to reach an accord, we took the decision to go ahead with awarding our team member and frontline colleagues the highest pay award in more than 20 years, effective 1st April.

“We have confirmed to the CWU that we won’t be re-opening the 2022 pay review, having already made the best award we could. We’re balancing the complex and competing demands of our stakeholders and that includes making once-in-a-generation investments to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks, vital for the UK economy and for BT Group’s future – including our people.”

The union said the strike action was likely to affect the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband, and could cause significant issues for those working from home.

A further day of strike action is planned for Monday, August 1.

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Daily Record – Paisley