Belfast Telegraph

Union to continue with BT strike vote

By Nick Clark

BT has moved to head off a potential strike by thousands of employees with an improved pay offer, but the trade union has remained unimpressed, saying it would “press ahead” with plans to ballot members on industrial action.

BT said it was “disappointed” with the union's response, but added that its door was open for further talks. The telecoms giant has been locked in a pay dispute with the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents between 50,000 and 60,000 BT employees including engineers, retail staff, and call-centre workers. It first held a strike ballot of members last week.

BT is now offering a 2% pay rise this year, followed by a further 3% rise next year. It is also offering a £250 bonus and a further £250 in performance-related pay. The previous offer was a one year deal of a 2% rise.

BT has also pledged not to make any voluntary redundancies until 2011 if staff accept the new terms. It also plans to bring call centre jobs and office work back from India.

Andy Kerr from the CWU, said: “We're very disappointed that BT's revised offer remains materially unchanged for this year in terms of pay.”

He said a 2% reward was unacceptable, and demanded 5% this year. The union wants some redress for employees after the company cut costs by £1.75bn and reported profits of over £1bn.

The CWU added that yesterday's offer was “blatant double standards”, citing the rise in remuneration to senior managers.

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