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UK’s BT faces possible industrial action after union rejects pay offer


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British Telecom (BT)’s headquarters is seen in central London, Britain May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) -BT, Britain’s biggest broadband and mobile operator, faces possible industrial action after the Communication Workers Union (CWU) rejected a consolidated pay rise of 1,500 pounds ($1,961) for its frontline workers.

BT (LON:BT) has about 58,000 frontline staff. It said the award was focused on its lowest-paid workers, equating to an increase of around 8% for some, while those at the top of its frontline salaries would receive more than 3%.

The company said it faced difficult trading conditions as Britain emerged from the pandemic, which had exacerbated a trend of year-on-year revenue declines over the last five years.

Chief Executive Philip Jansen said: “We know that the cost of living continues to rise and by making this award, we’re ensuring that our lower paid workers will benefit most and as soon as possible.”

The CWU, however, said it had “no choice now but to immediately prepare for a statutory industrial action ballot”.

It comes less than a year after the union agreed a deal with BT on the company’s modernisation plans, including a commitment to increase pay this year.

The BT award came as Tesco (LON:TSCO), the country’s biggest retailer, announced a 5.8% pay increase for store and fulfilment centre workers.

British employers are offering higher pay deals in the face of staff shortages and rising inflation, according to a survey published earlier this year.

Incomes Data Research, which monitors pay reviews, said in February that employees were typically receiving raises worth 3.0% in 2022, up from 2.0% during 2021 as a whole, and fewer employers were implementing a pay freeze for workers.

($1 = 0.7649 pounds)

UK’s BT faces possible industrial action after union rejects pay offer

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