THOUSANDS of BT and Openreach workers went on strike for a second day in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), including call centre workers and engineers, walked out yesterday for 24 hours following industrial action last week.

Workers at an Openreach site in Withdean, Brighton, joined many others across the country and picketed in front of the entrance, holding signs that said “low pay, no way” and “I am striking for a proper pay rise”. 

The strike is against a £1,500 pay increase for all employees, which the union says amounts to a real-terms wage cut due to the rising rate of inflation.

The Argus: Openreach workers in Withdean carried banners and called for a fair pay increaseOpenreach workers in Withdean carried banners and called for a fair pay increase

Chris Power, branch secretary at the Brighton office of the union, criticised the pay offer made by BT while chief executive Philip Jansen reportedly saw his salary increase by 32 per cent.

He said: “BT has refused to talk to the union, even though one of its mantras in the past was it is good to talk.

“All the while, they paid around £750 million out to shareholders in the last few weeks.”

Chris said that many members of the public went to the picket to show their support and said it was “about time we stood up for working people”.

The CWU encouraged supporters of the strike to take food to pickets across the country, which the union delivered to local food banks.

Deputy general secretary of the CWU Andy Kerr said: “When corrupt politicians and overpaid bosses fall way short of the mark, it is working people who look after other working people.

“I have no doubt the public will show their support to workers and struggling families by turning up to picket lines, dropping off goods and standing side by side with people fighting for dignity.”

The strike is the latest in a wave of industrial action across the country involving union members, including railway workers and Post Office staff.

A BT Group spokesman said: “At the start of this year, we were in exhaustive discussions with the CWU that lasted for two months, trying hard to reach an agreement on pay.

“When it became clear that we were not going to reach an accord, we took the decision to go ahead with awarding our team members and frontline colleagues the highest pay award in more than 20 years.

“We have confirmed to the CWU that we won’t be reopening the 2022 pay review, having made the best award we could.

“We’re balancing the complex and competing demands for 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.

“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.”