More than 500 999 operators will strike along with 40,000 other BT workers
More than five hundred 999 operators will strike this Thursday – alongside some 40,000 of their BT Group colleagues – with more strikes planned throughout the month. Serious disruption to emergency services is expected to result.
Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents for BT Group workers, will walk out on Thursday 6th October. Further strikes are planned for Monday 10 , Thursday 20 and Monday 24 October.
Workers taking action against the failure of BT to offer a fair pay deal include 30,000 Openreach engineers and 10,000 BT call-centre workers who have already taken action in previous months in their fight for fair pay. BT Group’s management has imposed a low, flat-rate pay rise of just £1,500 – which with RPI inflation levels already hitting 11.7% this year represents a major real-terms pay cut.
BT’s decision to impoverish its workers comes despite the company making £1.3 billion in annual profit, with CEO Philip Jansen gaining a £3.5 million pay package – a 32% wage increase – while the Big Issue and the BBC have reported instances of BT Group offices establishing food banks to assist employees.
The workers on strike look after the vast majority of Britain’s telecoms infrastructure, including mobile phone connections, broadband internet and back-up generators to national health systems, cyber security and data centres – and they are now joined by more than 500 operators in ‘999’ call centres across the country.
In previous strikes, it was agreed between the union and the company that these workers would be exempt from the strike, and that a certain number of workers would be available to work at any given time, but after widespread outrage at the company’s refusal to negotiate with union representatives, these workers will now be joining their company colleagues.
The union’s General Secretary Dave Ward said BT was putting,
lives… at risk because a company’s top brass won’t listen to workers. This decision was not taken lightly, but our union’s repeated attempts to initiate discussions was declined by a management who clearly believe they are above negotiating a fair deal for people who make massive profits for them.
999 operators are using foodbanks, they’re worried about the cost of living and are being stretched to the limit. Good will won’t pay the bills, and vital services are now being hampered because of corporate greed. BT management clearly has no appreciation of its workforce, or their social value. But this union does, and we will keep on fighting this company’s attempt to plunge its workers into even further hardship.”
CWU Deputy General Secretary Andy Kerr added:
It is downright disgraceful that BT Group’s refusal to treat its members with an ounce of dignity has come to this.
Time and time again, we have asked for negotiations to resolve what may well be a dangerous dispute for many, only to be ignored by a senior management that could not be less interested in addressing the anger that exists in their workplaces.
This is a problem created by corporate greed – and as usual, its effects will be felt by ordinary people. But BT Group workers are determined and united. They will fight hard to get the proper pay rise they deserve.”
Public support for workers striking to protect them and to fight for fair pay, terms and conditions remains strong.
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