Millions of BT customers to be hit by disruption this summer due to strikes | The Sun

MILLIONS of households will be hit by broadband disruption this summer as almost 40,000 BT staff voted.

Around 40,000 workers will walk out on July 29 and August 1 after voting overwhelmingly for industrial action last month.

It will be the first national strike in 35 years.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) say they want a “substantial” pay rise, especially with the spiralling rate of inflation – arguing that BT could afford it.

Those striking look after the majority of BT's infrastructure, from mobile phone connection, broadband internet and back-up generators to national health systems, cyber security and data centres.

It will be the first strike action at BT Group since 1987 and the first national call centre workers’ strike, said the union.

Employees who have stayed working at home face the biggest disruption. It comes amid fears of a summer of discontent.

Train strikes crippled the UK earlier this month and union leaders have warned industrial action will spread across the public sector.

The telecoms giant has been in a three-month dispute with the CWU over pay, as it accuses BT of introducing a low flat-rate pay rise despite soaring inflation.

BT offered 58,000 frontline workers a £1,500 pay rise in April.

The hike is equal to a 5% on average and 8% rise for the lowest paid.

A BT spokesperson said: "BT Group awarded its highest pay rise for frontline colleagues in more than 20 years – an average 5% increase and up to 8% for those on the lowest salaries.

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"At the same time, we’re in the middle of a once-in-a-generation investment programme to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks.”

The spokesperson added: "Our job is to balance the competing demands of BT Group’s stakeholders and that requires careful management, especially in a challenging economic environment.

"The result of the CWU’s ballot is a disappointment but we will work to keep our customers and the country connected."

Mr Ward said the vote to strike action was the first time a group of call centre workers had voted for industrial action.

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A vote by CWU members at EE failed to meet the legal threshold by just a few votes.

The BT workers' vote is one of a number of others that have already taken place across England.

Train strikes crippled the UK earlier this month and union leaders have warned industrial action will spread across the public sector.

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The CWU is also balloting 115,000 postal workers at Royal Mail about strike action.

The UK’s inflation rate high a 40-year-high in May, reaching 9.1 per cent.

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