Customer service to BT's business clients is likely to be hit as just under 14,000 BT managers vote on industrial action over pay, the Connect union said today (Thursday).
The company, the largest network service provider for central government in the UK, provides networked IT and communications services to companies including Virgin Media.
Connect announced the planned industrial action as BT published its annual financial results. Industrial action is likely to start on or before 27 May unless an agreement can be reached.
The union said that "regrettably" customer service from BT would suffer if industrial action goes ahead. Managers will refuse to work beyond their contracted hours, making it difficult for clients to contact them.
James Allen, campaigns manager at Connect, said, "Our members work substantially more than their contracted hours, and we know that clients rely heavily on that at the moment. It's likely that BT's customer service will be hit by the action. This is regrettable and not what we wanted, but we need a better pay offer from BT."
BT called the decision to strike "disappointing and unhelpful." It said its 4.3% pay offer is higher than prevailing market settlements.
Connect said it was unhappy with the distribution of pay, and the fact that some managers get paid less than the people they manage and that the offer makes no move towards solving BT's gender pay gap.
A BT spokesman said, "BT can confirm that Connect has served notice of their intention to take industrial action short of strike action but has asked to suspend the action to allow more talks. This is a disappointing and unhelpful development as BT has been working closely with Connect to resolve all remaining issues. BT will continue to seek solutions to the mutual satisfaction of all parties."