BT faces its first staff strike in 23 years after failing to agree a pay deal with the Communications Workers Union, which counts 60,000 BT employees among its members.
The union said it has no choice but to ballot members on a strike after a deadline to agree a settlement passed on Friday, and warned the strike could cause “severe disruption” across BT’s services, including emergency calls to the 999 number.
In a statement announcing the ballot, CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said only a revised pay offer from BT could prevent a walkout by its members.
“We've made our position very clear, 2% is not good enough when the company is making profits of over £1 billion, paying shareholders a 6% dividend and paying out large sums to senior executives while inflation is at 5.3 per cent.” Kerr said.
BT employees haven't taken industrial action since 1987. A spokesman told Telecoms Europe.net the telco would have contingencies in place to cover any potential strike, but that it was difficult to provide details of those plans until full details of the strike action were known.
However, the sheer number of CWU members employed by BT means any action could cause major disruption.
One of the most worrying aspects is that provision of emergency calling could be affected, the Daily Mirror reports, citing CWU officials.
Also under threat are the laying and maintenance of fixed phone and broadband lines, and provision of customer services.
The CWU unveiled its plan to ballot members over strike action late last month, and gave BT until June 4 to change its pay offer.