BT strike ballot announced by CWU

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The Communications Workers Union (CWU) will be holding a strike ballot over its pay dispute with BT.

CWU delegates at the union's annual telecoms conference unanimously voted to hold a ballot after BT's annual report showed chief executive Ian Livingston had received a bonus of 1.2 million last year.

The telecoms giant has until 4 June to make a revised pay offer reflecting what the CWU believes workers are owed for their efforts in improving the company's performance. If the demands are not met, then the union will serve formal legal notice to BT of CWU's plans to ballot all appropriate members for industrial action.

Speaking at the conference, CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: "This is about fairness. We don't mind senior executives getting bonuses, but we want all staff to share in the success of the company. Staff have borne the brunt of the cost savings and have delivered the profits but are being treated as a second thought."

He added: "BT can afford a decent pay rise for staff this year, there's no doubt about that. Their profits are extremely healthy and free cash flow is almost double the forecasts at 1.9 billion. With a pay freeze last year and inflation now running at 5.3 per cent BT's attitude to pay is insulting and the staff deserve more."

In response to the ballot decision, a BT spokesman told IT PRO: "We are disappointed by the CWU's decision to call a ballot but our door remains open."

He added: "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 their lowest paid members receive up to 5.4 per cent in pay and bonuses with some thousands of staff also enjoying a second pay rise in October."

The union has been campaigning for BT to increase its two per cent pay rise offer to staff to five per cent.

Livingston, who was made chief executive in 2008, received the 1,206,000 bonus on top of an 850,000 basic salary, which is set to go up to 900,000 from 1 June. He deferred the increase last year after BT failed to hit targets.

Group finance director Tony Chanmugam, meanwhile, will see his salary go up to 510,000 from 475,000, while retail chief executive Gavin Pattersons wage will increase to 525,000 from 500,000. Both rises are greater than two per cent.

A BT spokesman told IT PRO that the pay levels for Chanmugam and Patterson were acceptable as their wages are "below the market average".

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.