Engineers working for BT Openreach struck on 24-25 February, in a dispute over proposed changes to their terms and conditions. Further strikes are planned on 3-5 March. The workers, who perform specialist work moving and preserving BT cabling during major building works, are resisting the imposition of new contracts which would lead to pay cuts. Bosses claim the difference in pay would be topped up by bonuses, but workers say this would represent a “performance-related-pay” scheme where pay is tied to productivity rather than a guaranteed salary.
The strikes, the first by any BT workers since 1999 and the first by engineers since 1987, could presage wider action in the company. In December, CWU members throughout BT voted by a 97.9% majority in a consultative ballot for industrial action to defend terms and conditions.