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BT staff vote on strike action as pay row escalates

Ballot papers will today be sent to BT staff who are members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) urging them to vote for strike action as a row over pay escalates.

The union has rejected an offer of a 2% pay rise for BT workers, which it says is below inflation, and is angling for closer to 5%.

BT management have said they believe their offer is a fair one and that a 5% rise is not feasible.

But the CWU said yesterday that there were "double standards" when it came to pay for top executives and staff it represented, and that they were missing out despite the telecoms company making profits of £1bn and paying a 6% dividend to shareholders.

The company has over 2,000 employees in Northern Ireland.

Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said: "We are seeking an affordable and reasonable pay rise for our members in BT who have contributed heavily to the success of the company during a difficult couple of years.

"We are amazed at the aggressive attitude of BT bosses in the face of blatant double standards. The company's claim that a 5% pay rise for staff would lead to cutting back and making redundancies is an unbelievable fat cat excuse - it would cost 3.6% of available cash flow, hardly breaking the bank."

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He added: "We're confident that our members will vote yes in this ballot, despite the scare tactics of the company. It's time that BT recognises that you can't treat staff like second-class citizens."