The firm’s “blue collar” workers, represented by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), rejected BT’s two per cent pay rise at its annual conference.
Now all 55,000 CWU members will vote on whether to escalate the dispute to the first strike action at the firm since it was privatised in 1984.
Both sides say they hope to reach a settlement but are standing firm on their demands.
A BT spokesman said: “We are disappointed by CWU’s decision to call a ballot but our door remains open. It is in no one’s interest for industrial action to take place and we have written to the union this week to say we remain willing to meet with them. Our final offer is fair, realistic and more generous than those they have accepted elsewhere.”
Sources at the company are furious the CWU is pushing for a five per cent rise after accepting a two per cent hike for workers at Virgin Media and the Royal Mail.
Troubled BT finally began arresting its declining revenues last month. Deep cuts and improvements in service slowed its drop in revenue to just two per cent and the company now predicts a return to growth in 2012-13. The firm’s sales for the year hit £21bn and it predicts this will fall to around £20bn in the coming year.