BT strike threatens major disruption to remote workers

The Communication Workers Union, which represents 45,000 BT Group employees, could lead a walkout in the coming months

The BT tower in Central London

A potential strike over BT's plans to cut jobs and reduce its office footprint could lead to service disruptions for the UK's remote workers

That's according to the Communication Workers Union (CWU) which is set to hold a ballot in the coming days on whether strike action should go ahead, the Guardian reports. 

The telecoms giant has announced plans for massive layoffs and is also set to restructure its sprawling office footprint, moving from 300 sites to just 30 over the next few years. This could potentially mean desk-based employees having to relocate to one of the new areas, according to the CWU. 

The union, which represents 45,000 BT Group staff, said that a yes vote would have a "massive impact" on the network, as the company - which consists of BT, EE and Openreach - controls most of the UK's broadband networks.

With the UK still in lockdown, a potential walkout before the summer could cause trouble for those that are heavily reliant on their broadband connections.

"This is a decision we did not want to take," CWU's deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said. "Last year our members delivered a huge yes vote in a consultative ballot but BT Group is still in denial. We want to assure businesses and the public that we do not want to see disruptions to services. This action is about protecting our members but also it is about protecting the service they provide to homes and businesses."

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BT, EE and Openreach staff, have been classed as key workers during the pandemic due to the country's greater need for internet services. The CWU's general secretary, David Ward, said: "their reward from BT Group has been the threat of compulsory redundancy or the closure of their workplace."

In response, a BT spokesperson said: "We're disappointed that CWU is contemplating industrial action, though the union has not started the formal industrial action process. We remain committed to discussing the concerns they have raised."

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