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More than half of BT workers set to strike

Union asking for 5% pay rise to vote on strike.

More than half the workers at the UK telecom company BT are set to strike, pending a Communications Workers Union ballot on Monday afternoon.

The Guardian cites a union insider as saying that they were quietly confident of a "yes" vote by a majority of the 50,000 CWU members within BT. This could result in industrial action by 12 July at the earliest.

The first national strike at the company in 23 years could significantly disrupt BT services in the country, as most workers in the CWU are engineers or support staff at call-centres.

The workers, who say they suffered a pay-freeze and a round of redundancies over the last two years, are demanding a 5 per cent salary rise after the company reported profits of over £1bn in the last financial year.

However, BT's offer of a 5.1 per cent rise over 21 months plus several one-off payments have not convinced the workers, who were also angered by the disclosure that the company's chief executive, Ian Livingston, saw a threefold hike (equalling 6 per cent) in bonus last year.

Livingston has since settled for just a 2 per cent pay rise.