BT prepares for strikes by asking middle managers to cover front-line roles

BT is preparing to use hundreds of middle managers to undertake front-line engineering and call centre jobs to combat the threat of strikes.

The telecommunications giant is hoping to minimise disruption by preparing for the potential strikes after talks with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) broke down last week.

A walkout by engineers would be the first strike at the firm in 23 years, the Times has reported.

Contractors working for BT, who already handle some engineering and maintenance work, could also be asked to undertake more projects.

BT management also hope to avert the strike by appealing directly to staff.

The CWU rejected BT’s initial offer of a 2% pay award this year, and called instead for a 5% pay rise following profits at the telecommunication firm. BT then raised its offer to a 2% this year followed by a 3% rise in 2011, but this was rejected by the CWU.

Andy Kerr, the CWU’s deputy general secretary, said BT was showing “complete contempt” for its staff.

The CWU will send out ballot papers to its 55,000 members on Friday and will announce the result on 5 July.

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