'Slap in the face': BT workers picket in Romford and Hornchurch amid pay row

Protest

Members of the Communication Workers Union picketing outside of the BT telephone exchange in South Street, Romford - Credit: Charlotte Regan

Members of a communication union are continuing to picket in Romford in a row over pay.

On Friday (July 29), about 30 BT workers and members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) were picketing outside the BT telephone exchange on South Street.

Today (August 1), they are in Hornchurch opposite Queen’s Theatre.  

CWU member Will Murray, who is BT committee secretary for London, said members are striking because the BT group "imposed a pay rise on all of us without consent from the union and without authorisation from the members in a consultative ballot”.  

According to the 30-year-old, the pay rise is for BT, Openreach and EE workers, but he claims the rise of £1,500 annually, regardless of pay grade, is still “well-below inflation”.  

He said: “This is a flat-rate pay rise which wasn’t agreed with the union at all."  

A BT Group spokesperson said it was in “exhaustive discussion with the CWU” for two months over the issue, but went ahead after failing to “reach an accord”.

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It is the highest pay award in more than 20 years, effective April 1, they claimed.

They said the 2022 pay review will not be reopened, “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,” said the spokesperson.  

Charlotte Regan

CWU members are also holding strike action in Hornchurch opposite the Queen’s Theatre today (August 1) - Credit: Charlotte Regan

Will alleged to this newspaper that certain call centres had “foodbanks inside them” as staff couldn’t afford to eat - a claim strongly denied by BT.

The BT spokesperson said it is not a foodbank, but a “concierge service” at one site which helps those who work “unsociable hours when the canteen is closed”.

Will said: “I think when you look at what most of our people did throughout the pandemic, at the very least it’s a slap in the face... 

“It’s not right and not fair and I think members are willing to see this through until the end.”  

BT Group’s spokesperson added: “While we respect the choice of our colleagues who are CWU members to strike, we will work to minimise any disruption and keep our customers and the country connected.  

“We have tried and tested processes for large-scale colleague absences to minimise any disruption for our customers and these were proved during the pandemic.”