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BT strike averted following union deal

New offer put to vote after union pulled strike ballot

BT has struck a deal with the Communication Workers Union, which has put an end to a proposed strike.

The union leadership will recommend the new 39-month offer in a consultative ballot. This ballot will take place within the next few weeks. Earlier this week the CWU executive cancelled a strike ballot as the votes were being counted, citing potential legal challenges from the company.

BT management and the union failed to reach agreement on a one or two year deal, but the new offer will run until March 2013, something the company said offered it "wage stability for several years".

The offer is worth three percent each financial year from April 2010 to March 2013 with the rise being backdated to January 2010

Ian Livingston, BT chief executive, said: "This agreement is good for BT, its employees, shareholders and customers. I am pleased that we have been able to work with the union's leadership to resolve this matter as industrial action would have been in no-one's interest."

Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said: "Following a very difficult set of negotiations and the first national ballot for strike action in BT since 1987 we're delighted to have resolved this pay dispute through talks.

"This deal is among the highest pay settlements in the country this year recognising the contribution of staff and BT's success over the last year.

"Although our ballot for strike action was ultimately withdrawn, we believe it played a major part in getting BT back to the negotiating table with a significantly improved pay offer."

Anger among BT workers was fuelled by what they considered an unsatisfactory initial pay offer when the company's reported profits of over £1 billion and paid shareholders a six percent dividend.

BT revealed in its 2010 annual report that its chief executive, Ian Livingston, received an annual bonus of £1.2m – on top of a basic salary of £850,000.

BT's troubled Global Services division, where CWU represents a number of employees, may also be affected if union members go on strike. The division cut 5,900 jobs as part of a total group cull of 35,000 jobs in the last two years.

See also: BT to give 87% of London fibre broadband by 2011


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