Telecoms union pressures BT for inflation-countering pay rises

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Britain’s largest telecoms union is rejecting BT’s flat pay rise offer of £1200, which would leave employees worse off this year.

UK inflation is rising at its fastest rate for 30 years as fuel, energy, food, and other costs increase. The Bank of England expects inflation to reach around eight percent over spring and “it could go even higher later this year”.

Many employers are increasing employees’ salaries more than originally planned to help with the increased living costs and retain staff during a period of record job vacancies.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) believes that BT’s offer to its staff falls short.

“Rising inflation and the squeeze on household incomes means the offer of £1200 is a relative pay cut. BT need to listen to its workforce and realise you are their greatest asset; they have a clear choice whether to prioritise shareholders or workers,” argues Andy Kerr, Deputy General Secretary of Telecoms & Financial Services at the CWU.

“The CWU negotiating team has listened to our members’ views and as a consequence we have made the case to BT that you should get a 10% pay rise.”

The union says that it has further negotiations with BT in the coming days but will make preparations for a statutory industrial action ballot if the company fails to make a satisfactory offer.

“BT need to hear your voices too – please tell them you are worth 10%”

In a statement, a BT spokesperson wrote:

“The backdrop to this year’s pay review is a highly unusual and challenging set of macroeconomics. Our operational delivery in the past year has been brilliant although our financial performance has not been as strong. We are emerging from a two-year global pandemic which has created difficult trading conditions for our business and exacerbated a trend of falling revenue over each of the last five-years.

We are proposing a consolidated pay increase of £1,200 for all Team Member and frontline colleagues across BT Group. This offer would be the largest aggregate pay increase for our Team Member and frontline colleagues in the last 14 years, representing a salary increase of between 2.7% and 5.64%.”

With the recent P&O job cuts putting the spotlight on the poor treatment of workers by many employers; those who fail to keep pace with inflation are likely to see high employee churn and may struggle to recruit new staff without offering much higher salaries and benefits.

(Image: Andy Kerr by CWU)

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