BT staff have voted for their first national strike in 35 years, which is expected to affect customers across the country having broadband services installed or getting faults fixed.
The strike by BT engineers, call centre and shop staff represents the vast majority of its 58,000-strong frontline workforce, and the trade union organising the ballot has said that BT customers can expect disruption to services including repairs, having new phone and internet lines fitted or getting hold of support staff.
The UK’s largest telecoms company has been in dispute with the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents about 40,000 of the company’s 100,000 workforce, over pay as the cost of living soars.
In April, BT gave 58,000 workers a £1,500 pay rise that it said was its biggest award in two decades. The CWU, which is pushing for a 10% rise at BT as inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1% last month, called the offer “insulting” and a “relative pay cut”.
BT’s chief executive Philip Jansen, who received a 32%pay rise last year to £3.5m due to bonuses and share awards, has said the company cannot afford to sweeten its staff deal. BT made almost £2bn in profits for the year to the end of March, with shareholders receiving £700m in dividends.
The strike comes as the UK faces a summer of industrial discontent amid growing anger among workers over pay and conditions. The CWU is also balloting 115,000 postal workers at Royal Mail about proposed strike action, with the result due on 19 July.
Last week, Britain weathered the biggest rail strike in 30 years as tens of thousands of staff took action in a dispute over pay and jobs.