Mobile operator O2 is facing a strike by call centre staff over proposed pay freezes, which their union claims could last up to seven years.
Around 5,000 employees could be called out by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) after pay talks collapsed for call centre workers and engineers in Bury, Leeds and Preston Brook in Cheshire.
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The CWU said up to half the staff faced a seven-year pay freeze as a result of O2’s plan to level pay rates.
New recruits on £13,500 a year have been offered a 3% rise, but many ex-BT employees who became O2 staff after BT sold off its mobile arm (previously known as Cellnet) will get nothing.
The ex-BT staff are currently on around £19,000, and the union says it could take seven years for new staff to catch up with these wages.
O2 said around 1,000 of the staff would get no rise this year.