BT is on the brink of the first national strike staged by workers since 1987 after discontent over this year’s pay deal.
Almost 60,000 BT staff, represented by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), have voted unanimously to hold a strike ballot after being offered a 2% pay rise.
The offer, which CWU wants increased to 5%, comes at a time when BT posted a 6% increase in profits to £5.78 billion in 2009-10.
In addition, senior executives at the firm are receiving generous bonuses, including a £1.2 million payout for chief executive Ian Livingstone.
Andy Kerr, deputy general secretary at the Communication Workers Union, said: “This about fairness. We do not mind senior executives getting bonuses, but we want all staff to share in the success of the company. Staff have borne the brunt oft the cost savings and have delivered the profits but are being treated as a second-thought.
“BT can afford a decent pay rise for staff this year, there is no doubt about that. Its profits are extremely healthy and free cash flow is almost double the forecasts at £1.9 billion. With a pay freeze last year and national inflation now running at 5.3% BT’s attitude towards pay is insulting and staff deserve more.”
A BT spokesman said: “We are disappointed by the CWU’s decision to call a ballot but our door remains open. It is in no-one’s interest for industrial action to take place and we have written to the union this week to say we remain willing to meet with them.
“Our final offer is fair, realistic and more generous than those they have accepted elsewhere. This offer could see its lowest-paid members receive up to 5.4% in pay and bonuses with some thousands of staff also enjoying a second pay rise in October.“
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