BT faces pay dispute strike after executive bonus hikes

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BT is facing its first strike threat in nearly 25 years after revealing a £1.2m bonus for the chief executive, Ian Livingston.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is to ballot its 55,000 members on industrial action if BT does not improve its 2 per cent pay offer by 4 June, the trade union said yesterday.

The ultimatum came after the publication of BT's annual report showing Mr Livingston's bonus is set to more than triple, taking his total pay package to more than £3m, after hitting targets on cash flow, earnings per share and customer service. Mr Livingston was also offered a 6 per cent pay rise, while BT Retail's chief executive, Gavin Patterson, was offered 5 per cent, and the finance director, Tony Chanmugam, 7 per cent.

Mr Livingston has pledged to take just 2 per cent – the same raise being offered to all BT staff – and donate the rest to charity. And BT says the other directors are paid below the market average. But the CWU says the pay deals are unfair.

Andy Kerr, the union's deputy general secretary, said: "This is about fairness. We don't mind senior executives getting bonuses, but we want all staff to share in the success of the company."

The CWU is pushing for a 5 per cent rise for all staff. There is "no doubt" that BT can afford a "decent" raise, Mr Kerr says.

But BT described the CWU's demands as "unrealistic" yesterday. "We are disappointed the CWU leadership has rejected what is a very fair offer," a statement from the company said. "We are keen to safeguard jobs for the long term and a realistic pay deal will be a major step in that direction. We hope the union review their position as this is our final offer."