BT strike talks collapse

City A.M. Reporter
TALKS between the Communication Workers Union and British Telecoms group BT aimed at averting the company’s first strike for more than two decades have broken down.

BT made a fresh two-year pay offer this week but the CWU, which represents more than 50,000 BT workers, said it failed to make any improvement on the existing pay offer of two per cent for 2010.

BT said it was surprised and disappointed the CWU had rejected its offer ahead of the talks on Wednesday, which lasted five hours but failed to reach an agreement.

CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said in a statement: “Things have undoubtedly got worse since our meeting with BT yesterday. The company is now showing complete contempt for staff and for the reasonable pay rise we are seeking for our members in the company.”

Ballot papers will be sent out on 18 June the CWU said, and the result will be announced on 5 July.
BT said no progress had been made at the talks because the union was unwilling to compromise on its original demands for a five per cent pay rise.

A BT statement said: "We are astonished the CWU have rejected an improved offer which would have given their members job security. BT has moved several times over recent months but the union have remained rooted to the spot demanding a pay rise that is out of line with the current market.

"Their demand for 5 per cent this year alone is simply unrealistic and we would question how many major companies are making such an offer in the current environment."