BT has until noon today to agree to raise its pay offer to staff by 3% to prevent a strike ballot.
The telecommunications giant has already offered its staff a 2% pay rise, but this has been rejected by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which is now calling for a 5% rise.
The CWU has given BT until noon today to agree to its demands, otherwise the firm could face its first national strike in 23 years.
The union, which represents more than 55,000 BT employees, is angry that front-line staff have been offered a 2% pay award while chief executive Ian Livingston received a £1.2m bonus payment, and was offered a £50,000 pay rise to £900,000.
Yesterday BT refused to enter into negotiations on the offer, the Daily Telegraph has reported.
Andy Kerr, deputy general secretary of the CWU, said: “Time is running out for BT to respond to our request for an improved pay offer. If we don’t make any progress on this by the deadline of midday on Friday we will be putting the wheels in motion to ballot all of our members in BT for strike action, which would be the first action of its kind in more than 20 years.
“We’ve made our position very clear – 2% is not good enough when the company is making huge profits and paying out large sums to shareholders and senior executives. We’re not asking for the earth, we’re asking for a fair and affordable share of BT’s success.”
The union warned a strike could cause “significant disruption” and lead to damaged or faulty phone lines being left unrepaired for days. The majority of CWU members work as engineers or in call centres helping customers with faults.
BT said it has contingency plans in place and has asked managers to provide cover for key roles.
A spokesman said: “BT hopes it can resolve this matter with the CWU over the next few weeks before any potential action takes place.”
Prospect union, which also represents BT staff, has already accepted the 2% offer.