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BT workers could strike nationally for first time in more than 30 years

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Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent
·2-min read
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BT workers are to vote on industrial action in a row over jobs, threatening the first national strike at the communications giant in more than 30 years.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said 45,000 of its members in BT, Openreach and EE will be balloted, warning a yes vote would have a “massive impact” on the network.

The dispute over compulsory redundancies and the closure of sites, has been running for over a year.

CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: “This is a decision we did not want to take.

“Last year, our members delivered a huge yes vote in a consultative ballot, but BT Group are still in denial.

“We want to assure businesses and the public that we do not want to see disruptions to services. This action is about protecting our members, but also it is about protecting the service they provide to homes and businesses.

“My message to BT Group is that our door is still open, and we want to resolve this dispute, but this will require a huge shift in attitude from the company.

“My message to our members is to continue supporting their union and prepare to deliver a massive ‘yes’ vote.”

Openreach van
BT, Openreach and EE will be balloted (Joe Giddens/PA)

CWU general secretary Dave Ward added: “Thousands of our members across BT, Openreach and EE have been key workers during the pandemic.

“They have kept the country connected, held together the home working revolution and enabled the wheels of the economy to keep moving – all whilst dealing with the realities of the pandemic themselves.

“Their reward from BT Group has been the threat of compulsory redundancy or the closure of their workplace.

“We have a different vision – one of growing jobs, investment and enhancing the service we provide across the UK.

“I want to make it clear to management and our members that this union will now embark on the most innovative campaign possible to deliver a result which will leave the company in no doubt what the feelings of the workforce are.”

A BT spokesman said: “We’re disappointed that CWU is contemplating industrial action, though the union has not started the formal industrial action process. We remain committed to discussing the concerns they have raised.

“BT needs to go through a period of immense change and investment to modernise itself for the future.

“Once complete, we will have a much simpler operating model with fewer people and we’ll be better able to serve our customers.

“Such change is always difficult – that’s why we have been discussing our plans with the unions and will continue to do so.”