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Tuesday 15th of June 2010
May 26, 2010    

Strike action looming at BT

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by Kay Murchie

Telecoms giant BT could be faced with industrial action after top bosses have been awarded huge bonuses, which has angered staff.

The possible strike action, which would be the first in 25 years, comes as a 2% pay offer was rejected by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which is now planning to ballot its 60,000 members.

BT is to publish its annual report today, which is expected to reveal increased bonuses for top staff, including a £1 million bonus for BT chief executive Ian Livingston.

BT recently unveiled £1 billion in profits for the year to 31 March, which was a significant improvement on the £134 million loss a year earlier.

Andy Kerr, the CWU’s deputy general secretary, said: “This is blatant double standards. Staff at BT have borne the brunt of the cost savings through redundancies, changes to pensions and a pay freeze.

“All we’re asking for staff is a fair share of the profits as a pay rise. If it’s good enough for the managers it should be good enough for the staff,” added Mr Kerr.

The union is expected to announce the ballot at its annual meeting to be held in Bournemouth later.

Meanwhile, a BT statement said: “Almost 30,000 BT staff will also get higher bonuses as a result (not just the top execs). Performance related remuneration is our favoured approach and our door is always open - and has been - if the CWU wish to speak to us about such schemes.”

The news comes as British Airways (BA) cabin crew are in the midst of their five-day strike.

The airline has been involved in a long-running dispute with its cabin crew members over cost-cutting measures, which include a pay freeze and a switch to part-time working for thousands of staff.

The airline has admitted in the past that it is fighting for its survival and said the cost-cutting programme is part of a strategy to reduce salary costs.

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