BT accused of "gaslighting" members after announcement of millions in profit as Leeds staff join national strikes

Thousands of workers at telecoms giant BT walked out today in the first of two planned strikes in a row over pay.

By Alex Grant
Friday, 29th July 2022, 4:30 pm

Engineers and call centre staff voted in favour of industrial action after BT offered a £1,500 per year pay rise.

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But, following a ballot of BT employees, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said now is the time for them to be paid back by the company, which announced net profits of nearly £1.3bn last year.

Engineers and call centre staff voted in favour of industrial action after BT offered a £1,500 per year pay rise. Picture: @CWUnews.

“Today’s strike has been nothing short of rock solid,” a CWU spokesperson said.

“In every town and city, BT Group employees manned over 400 picket lines, showing their opposition to a management that doesn’t seem to care about them."

The union has warned that strikes could affect the rollout of ultra-fast broadband, and could cause issues for people working from home.

BT has said it had "tried and tested processes for large-scale colleague absences" to minimise disruption.

CWU General Secretary, Dave Ward, hit out at the telecoms provider yesterday after they announced millions in profit on the eve of the strike.

“BT Group are now gaslighting our members,” he said.

“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.”

BT has repeatedly said it has made its best pay offer and will not be re-opening the 2022 pay review.

The move to strike has been backed by Leeds MP Richard Burgon who made his way down to the picket line.

"Today I visited the @cwunews picket line in Leeds to support BT workers in our city and across the country on strike for fair pay,” he said.

“Why should BT workers accept a pay cut? The company made £1.3bn in profits and the BT chief executive got a 32 per cent pay rise. Solidarity.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, added:

“These are the same engineers and call centre staff who kept our country going through the pandemic, powering our work-from-home revolution and protecting critical NHS infrastructure.

"This cannot go on. The cost-of-living crisis demands action from leaders at all levels of government."