BT employees are to vote on industrial action on jobs in a row, threatening the first national strike against the communications giant in more than 30 years.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said 45,000 of its members will be elected in BT, Openreach and EE, warning that a yes vote would have a “massive impact” on the network.
The dispute over dismissal obligations and the closure of locations has been going on for over a year.
CWU Deputy Secretary General Andy Kerr said, “This is a decision we did not want to make.
“Last year our members cast a large yes vote in an advisory vote, but the BT Group is still in opposition.
“We want to reassure businesses and the public that we don’t want to see any disruption to services. This campaign is about protecting our members, but also about protecting the services they provide to homes and businesses.
“My message to BT Group is that our door is still open and we want to resolve this dispute, but this will require a big change in the company’s mindset.
“My message to our members is to continue to support their union and prepare for a massive yes vote.”
CWU General Secretary Dave Ward added, “Thousands of our members in BT, Openreach and EE have been key contributors during the pandemic.
“They kept the country connected, held the homework revolution together, and allowed the wheels of the economy to keep moving – while addressing the realities of the pandemic itself.
“Your reward from BT Group was the risk of compulsory layoffs or job closure.
“We have a different vision – growing jobs, investing and improving the service we offer across the UK.
“I want to make it clear to management and our members that this union will now launch the most innovative campaign possible to achieve an outcome that will undoubtedly inform the company of the feelings of the workforce.”
A BT spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the CWU is considering industrial action even though the union has not yet started the formal industrial action process. We will continue to seek to address the concerns you have raised.
“BT has to go through a period of immense change and investment in order to modernize for the future.
“Once we’re done, we’ll have a much simpler operating model with fewer people and better able to serve our customers.
“Such a change is always difficult – so we have discussed our plans with the unions and will continue to do so.”