BT workers across East Lancashire have walked out today in the first national strike against the company since 1987.

BT and Openreach staff in Blackburn have held a picket line outside the Telephone Exchange on Jubilee Street, and the telecoms engineer centre on Sumner Street today (July 29), joining thousands of workers across the country.

According to the Communication Workers Union (CWU), there are 260 picket lines expected across the UK, including another picket line in Accrington at the contact centre on Globe Way, as workers strike over pay.

Union representative for Blackburn, Shabs Adam, has worked at the company for more than 30 years and said until now, he has never had to consider strike action.

He said: “Not a single advisor from the call centre has gone into the building, which shows the strength of our feelings about this.

“As a union rep, my members contact me regularly asking ‘do they eat or do they heat’ - and things are only going to get worse.

“We have seen situations where managers have had to go to the supermarket and buy food for members.

“It’s an awful situation we are in, to be treated like this is shocking.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Workers at the contact centre in Accrington are also strikingWorkers at the contact centre in Accrington are also striking

In the first of the two days of action, staff from the Blackburn call centre were joined by Labour back bencher and MP for Blackburn, Kate Hollern, who was showing her support for the workers.

Kate said: “I’m here to support the workers of BT. If you look at the profits BT made last year, it’s disgraceful that there are workers here who can’t afford to feed their families.

“Times are tough and this country is in crisis. This company needs to wake up and support the workers who supported us over the past two years.”

Union boss Dave Ward said BT workers “kept the country connected during the pandemic” and “deserve a proper pay rise”.

It comes the day after BT revealed its first sales growth for five years, boosted by price increases handed down to customers earlier this year.

As well as this, the union have highlighted that the CEO Philip Jansen has had a 32 per cent pay rise, now earning a wage of £3.2million per year.

Lancashire Telegraph: An engineer, Rob and retired BT worker Maurice holding a picket line outside the site on Sumner StreetAn engineer, Rob and retired BT worker Maurice holding a picket line outside the site on Sumner Street

A BT Group spokesperson 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 member and frontline colleagues the highest pay award in more than 20 years, effective April 1.

“We have confirmed to the CWU that we won’t be re-opening the 2022 pay review, having already made the best award we could."