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Managers could man the phones at BT

BT plans to use hundreds of middle managers to fill frontline positions in call centres and engineering roles in the event of a strike, sources say.

The telecoms group is putting together contingency plans for the first strike at the firm since 1987, after talks with the Communications Workers Union (CWU) broke down last week.

The union rejected BT’s final offer of a 5.1 per cent pay rise over 21 months, arguing the deal “treated employees with contempt”.

It has also been reported that BT could go to court in an attempt to block any strike action.

Around 55,000 CWU members will be asked to vote by post on a possible strike, with the CWU due to announce the results on 5 July.

A spokesperson for the telecoms group said: “BT hopes that industrial action can be avoided and that CWU members see that a 5.1 per cent pay rise, plus bonuses, over the next 21 months is a fair offer and higher than many out there in the market.”

BT said it was “drawing up contingency plans to ensure that services are safeguarded” but could not comment on the details.