BT strike looms as ballot papers sent out


The Communications Workers Union (CWU) will be sending ballot papers out to BT members today asking them to vote on strike action, after the respective parties failed to reach an agreement over a pay dispute.

The CWU has accused BT of double standards in pay for top-level staff when compared to union members and claimed it has failed to recognise the contribution made by workers.

The union had been after a five per cent pay rise for this year, which is more than double BT's initial offer of two per cent.

BT came back with a revised offer earlier this month consisting of a two per cent wage increase with extra payments of 250, subject to performance. CWU rejected the offer.

The relationship between the communications giant and the union has become increasingly strained over recent months.

A source close to BT told IT PRO that the communications firm had written to the CWU this week asking them to reflect on its offer and resolve the matter, but the union had failed to respond.

At the time of publication, the CWU had not responded to IT PRO's request to confirm such an interaction.

A BT spokesman declined to comment on any letter sent to the union, but he did note the company's disappointment that the ballot is now going ahead.

"For many months the union has appeared to be intent on taking industrial action. BT has improved its offer several times but the union have not moved once from their opening claim," he said.

The most recent BT offer would see all CWU members receive 5.1 per cent over 21 months and thousands would end up getting more than 10 per cent, according to the spokesman.

"BT is now contacting union members directly as it is clear that the union's leadership are unwilling to negotiate," he added.

Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said in a statement: "We are amazed at the aggressive attitude of BT bosses in the face of blatant double standards."

Kerr 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."

He said that the CWU was still willing to speak to BT about an improved offer.

The ballot papers are expected to reach members' homes by 19 June and the ballot will close on 5 July.

Earlier this month, the CWU sent out ballot papers to its O2 members suggesting that they turn down the company's pay offer of two per cent.

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.