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back to article BT reaches deadlock with union

BT faces a strike ballot after it failed to reach an agreement in a pay dispute with engineers by today's noon deadline. Some 55,000 members of the Communication Workers Union at BT will now vote on their first industrial action in more than 20 years. The union had set a 12pm deadline for BT to improve on its offer of a two per …

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FAIL

bonuses do not add to basic pay

"performance-based payments are its favoured approach."

yep because they do not add to basic salary so they are basically a way of implimenting a pay freeze

all this when the top brass award themselves an inflation busting payrise and big bonuses

time for the shareholders to vote down the boards renumeration package until it is fair across the board, oh sorry that won't happen old boys club and everything

peter

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Engineers

BT faces a strike ballot after it failed to reach an agreement in a pay dispute with engineers by today's noon deadline.

Some 55,000 members of the Communication Workers Union at BT

if they're members of the Communication Workers union then they're unlikely to be engineers. They're more likely to be technicians.

We in this country are one of the few countries that respect the the title "Engineer".

As a professional engineer, I find it insulting that I am lumped in with guys that make a few wire connections to a Krone rack in a street side distribution cabinet.

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Ditto

The post is required, and must contain letters.

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Stop

Big boys paid more - crazy

Wow, you mean to say the people at the top with more responsibility on their shoulders get more money? That's just crazy talk...

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FAIL

I dont thikn thats the objection, tiger...

The objection is that the staff get 2%, and the boss gets 6%. Even taking into account performance based pay rises, ive never heard of someone (excluding management-types) getting a 6% rise.

In my company if you get the absolute best rating imaginable so that you get the highest possible payrise you still top out at 4.5% (the more likely is 2.5-3%). If i knew that the CEO was getting 6% i too would be going to the picket line.

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FAIL

Idiot

It's a PERCENT they are after - not a fixed amount.

According to the Times last year Ian Livingstone is on £850,000. So 6% gives him an increase of £51,000.

Think the average pay in the UK is around the £21,000 mark, so 6% would be an £1,260 increase.

So the CEO will get a £51k pay increase, plus a £1.2 million bonus. The workers will get £420 pay increase and a performance related bonus of some sorts. (Anyone actually think the staff get into 4 figures for their bonus?)

Nobody is saying that a techie or office staff should be on the same as the CEO. Nor is anyone saying they should get the same pay increase in terms of sterling. All most people are saying is that it's VERY unfair to give 6% to a few and 2% to the majority.

If BT are all for performance related pay then why not offer 4.5% for everyone and then performance related on top of that?

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percentage game

6% of a lot is quite a bit

2% of not much is bugger all

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Grenade

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.

What responsibility? If the company folds or does badly the big shots just move on to another big job (likely with a big golden goodbye and a golden handshake on the other end), but given the cuts it should be every worker in the trenches that deserve a reward.

There's nothing smart or reward worthy about some management dick demanding that the workers delivery more revenue while jobs are being axed within the same company; that the workers knuckled down and worked even harder with less resources should see them rewarded... but of course not, which is why army generals are forever picking up Victoria Crosses for shouldering the responsibility of ordering about fine bodies of men... right?

Oh, and on the subject of 2% vs 6%, I'll take 2% of 200,000 over 6% of 20,000 anytime.

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Anonymous Coward

Bollox

"BT has said staff have received higher bonuses this year".

I haven't had any bonus yet this year. (So does that mean I'll get a better pay rise instead? Fat f&^%$ing chance!)

Probably I'll get neither (Opinion based on my few years experience here).

And in reply to AC about more responsibility for more reward : Bollox again.

See the idiot french chap who bankrupted Global Services and nearly the whole company got about 3 million quid golden handshake to sod off and leave us alone. There is no "responsibility" up there, it's quite simply do what you feel or what everyone one else is doing and then take the money and run as soon as it's on offer.

I would willingly swap places.

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Responsibility?

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Bright side, if 55,000 BT rack monkeys go on strike, it could cause millions of pounds of improvements to the network.

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FAIL

It's not just about pay freezes...

Think about it: You pay into your pension, and it's based on contributions. A bonus isn't generally taken into the calculations. And if you're still on a final pay scheme (thank yer lucky stars) then bonuses aren't taken into account either. Another way to stuff the employees.

Same old same old Rip Off Britain.

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Thumb Down

Why not just buy shares in your employer?

Get some of that 6% dividend

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Silver badge

The Marie Antoinette solution

Not everyone has the spare cash to gamble on the stock market. And putting all your financial eggs in one basket isn't wise. Should your employer go belly up*, you lose your job and your savings.

Of course BT could always give their employees shares...

*Admittedly unlikely in BT's case

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Fair

If the Bank of England cannot keep to its target of 2% inflation why should people take significant real cuts in pay? Get a decent Bank of England governor (shame steady Eddie is dead) and we might get somewhere.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

WTF?

Did you read the article?

You know they are striking not because of benefits or holiday... it's because of the top brass are getting 6% pay rise whilst the bottom ranks get 2%.

In other words because it's grossly unfair. Getting a % increase is fair as it's based on your current job pay, plus the increase as a %. Bonus is a different matter and is for an extra well done - usually reserved for merit and achievement.

A pay increase without changing your job role is normally associated with cost of living increases.

I'm not aware essential goods have gone up more for executives compared to the general staff...

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FAIL

@ac

Crap - i work in the public sector and I only get 25 days leave, have to work for any toil I get and get way below the market rate for my job. I also pay for my pension every month. Our pay rise this year will be 1.5%, 2% below inflation. It was accepted by 85% in the union ballot.

RTFA - this is the first BT strike in 20 years. Its not like they strike every year. And haven't you heard of the strikes at EDS/HP and Fujitsu? Hardly public sector companies!

I hope you never have to defend your job without a union behind you.

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FAIL

TOIL - an expression that only exists in the public sector

I work in the private sector, get 20 days leave and am expected to work over and above when ever is necessary. No over time, no default pay increase.

Public sector expectations need to be brought back in to line. Time off in lieu, yeah really it is practically a non occurrence in most companies.

I will never have a union behind me, most unions are only in it for their cash! Its no surprise that they fight for higher pay rises, just watch how your union contributions creep up when you go up a band.... I bet they don't knock you a couple of % off when you are a bit strapped.

Union mobsters, they are no better than the fat cats.

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Good luck to em

I'm not defending BT here, I'm defending the BT workers.

As someone who regularly comes into contact with many people from many defferent departments of BT Retail and BT Openreach I have to say that the works really have had the shit parade droppedon them many times in the last 2-3 years.

Time was when being a BT engineer was a fantastic job that included a great salary, great prospects alas now each engineer is given unrealistic targets, micro managment and now even a poorer salary than in the rest of the private sector.

Mnay engineers are beaten on a aily basis about performance and timescales and it's little wonder that mistakes are made and the customer suffers.

Time to drop many of the BT middle management and let the engineers get on the their jobs. Stop putting unachieveable targets on them and things get done.

I say good luck to them and if they can get rid of the stupid middle management then a +2% pay rise is not much to ask...esp when their seniors are getting 70%+ bonues!

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FAIL

Of Course the Union left out the Pension Pot top up!!

Yes of course the Union likes to forget that BT has continued to top up the massive pension pot hole, which is does not have to do.

Despite the almost 1 billion £s which will have been added to it over 2 years those same workers who will benefit form it are going on strike and complaining that life is not fair for only a 2% rise and 500£ bonus and an almost guarenteed job for life.

The sense of entitlement is a disgrace in the country.

The fact that we are in a major recession seems to have escaped most people at BT. You are lucky to have a damn job you idiots...

If you want better pay and benefits then look for a better job and be prepared to retrain and move locations like the rest of us, who btw don't have final salary pension or job for life.

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Sense of entitlement?

"BT has continued to top up the massive pension pot hole, which is does not have to do."

Pensions are a contractual part of the employees' pay and benefits. BT do have to fill the deficit, or try and negotiate their way out of their liabilities. And under whos management did the deficit appear?

"The fact that we are in a major recession seems to have escaped most people at BT. You are lucky to have a damn job you idiots..."

The country may be in a recession, but BT are obviously weathering it and even making a profit. Why are you so upset that BT employees are demanding a fair share of the spoils for their hard work? If you can't negotiate better pay, a final salary pension and job security for yourself, perhaps you should try joining a union?

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Grenade

What final salary?

Okie, one by one:

* Most BT workers (99.99% say) in common with all private sector employees have the usual lump sum to live from, with the lump size largely dictated by the market, and this has been the case since the mid-nineties. All workers are working hard to scrape a pension of their own while also working hard to help filing in a pension hole/crisis that they had no say in.

* Granted no company is compelled by law to keep their pension pots in sane order (presumably as this is foolishly taken as a common sense given), but as was the common practice the pension pot became a nice little stash of cash to dip in to for dividends in lean years and for growing the companies assets. Too many companies dipped too often and BT is admirable attempting to make up for greed and shortsightedness of previous boards by honoring their promises and not sending 100,000s of pensioners in to poverty, i.e., on to the state pension.

* What is a job for life these days? Working hard and making yourself indispensable will help a lot (as will dirt on the boss), but times change and only a fool believes that their boss or their role will be there for anything more than 10 years (less when technology is involved).

* This major recession (which could have been "the Greatest Depression" had public money not been pumped in like there was a war on) was caused by a lot of ridiculously paid idiots in the city and their bosses. The idiots are still being ridiculously rewarded, but only so long as everyone else works their ass off to plug the huge hole in public finances that kept financiers afloat and banks open without any nataionalisation nor any money returned... still mustn't grumble... :^(

* Only the lucky or foolish jump jobs in a recession, but if we are out of recession there really should be no need to move job as you should sensible expect pay to increase at a reasonable rate, i.e., approaching inflation not half the rate.

To be honest the strike action seems more based on (as overs have written here) previous years of poor employee relations, so hopefully BT will be able to sort out something that builds bridges, something that couldn't happen without a union to represent the considerably large BT workforce.

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Flame

Re: Sense of Entitlement

The Sense of Entitlement you speak of is highlighted by the leadership of the company, who are paid to lead by example. If they get 6%, everyone should get 6%.

If they want to run it like a communist stalag, then run it like one. If the lowest pay increase is 2% (even if it is less than inflation - there are very few jobs that get pay raises that keep up with, let alone outpace, inflation), then EVERYONE should get the same pay raise percentage. Bonuses should be based on % of pay, not set monetary amounts - and if it is calculated for taxes, benefits, etc, then it better damn well be calculated for retirement!

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Anonymous Coward

No fan of unions

But i have had the misfortune to bump into the upper echelons of BT in a work capacity. They may be nice people in their own world but to an outside contractor they certainly seemed very very arrogant about themselves, their abilities and the fact that it was armies of pen pushers who were really making anything the management mused about, happen.

And to the muppet who said "Big boys paid more - crazy" - maybe you should look up HOW percentages work, the big boys will always get more anyway, its a PERCENTAGE.

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Paris Hilton

Hang on guys?

Strike?

Bonus?

Pension?

As a customer I hope BT weathers the storm using bonus payments and surely individuals can voluntarily contribute to pension from the bonus?

I take the point that bonus-pension-salary level do have issues but in these financial times even a 2% increase seems quite generous.

Shame about the board though.

I do believe the best companies are those with active shareholder participation rather than passive passiveness.

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Happy

Man and a Dog

The last time BT engineers went on strike, network reliability improved. We joked at the time that maintenance was better carried out by a man and a dog, and that the dog was there to keep the man away from the equipment. Sad but true.

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Correction

Couple of corrections if I may.

The union is balloting for industrial action - this covers all action upto and including a strike, a yes vote will not automatically mean a strike.

This is not the first time in 20 years there has been a vote for industrial action, in 2003 there was 3x 1 day walkouts planned, this was only stopped when BT got a high court injunction to stop the action.

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