Communications workers will vote this morning on whether to ballot members on a strike at BT, the UK's biggest network operator.
The move follows a pay offer from BT of 2% plus bonuses between £250 and £500 in the wake of reported profits before tax of £1bn and the loss of 30,000 jobs in two years - 14,000 from BT itself, and 21,000 from agencies and contractors it hired.
The Communications Workers Union expects BT's CEO to receive a bonus of £1m when the annual report is published today. BT proposed to pay shareholders a dividend of 6.9p per share, up 6.2% from 6.5p the year before.
CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said the issue was about fairness. "BT staff have borne the brunt of cost savings and delivered the huge profits being enjoyed by the company this year. We have no problem with senior executives receiving bonuses, but we want all staff to share the success of the company," he said.
BT said it was disappointed the CWU had rejected BT's offer of 2% plus a guaranteed bonus of between £250 and £500. "Our offer is more generous than those accepted by the union elsewhere and so we are surprised they have rejected it," BT said.
It said the CWU's demand of 5% was unrealistic. It said CWU members at BT were significantly better paid than at other companies. Its offer meant the lowest-paid union members could receive up to 5.4% more in pay and bonuses and there would be a further pay review for some staff in October, BT said.