BT Offers $81 Million Cash Bonus to Staff Threatening Strike

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BT Group Plc announced a bonus for 59,000 workers, weeks ahead of a potential strike over Chief Executive Officer Philip Jansen’s restructuring plans.

Staff such as engineers and call center workers who were on the front line during the pandemic will receive 1,000 pounds ($1,371) in cash immediately, the British phone company said in a statement. It said that’s about 5% of an average annual front-line U.K. salary. They’ll get another 500 pounds’ worth of stock in three years as part of a previously-announced share plan.

The bonus is “despite BT freezing pay across the company and ongoing, unresolved discussions with the trade unions over its transformation and modernization plans,” BT said. Its shares fell 1% to 147.45 pence in early London trading.

Jansen has warned his plans to make the former state monopoly more efficient will mean cuts to the 100,000-strong workforce. The company is aiming to lower its gross cost base by 2 billion pounds by 2025 and already removed 3,600 full-time roles in the first half of the financial year.

The Communication Workers’ Union is preparing to ballot 45,000 members on its first national strike at the company since 1987. A spokesman said the bonus announced on Wednesday doesn’t resolve the ongoing pay negotiations.

“We know our members will not be bought off and unlike BT, we will not put a price on their job. They are trying to divide the workforce, and ignoring the voice of members,” said the spokesman.

BT said the bonuses won’t affect its earnings guidance as it will make spending decisions to mitigate the cash impact. No impact is expected in the 2022 financial year as there will be no pay rise, a BT spokesman added.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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