BT faces possible strike action over Wireless flotation

Trade unions call for radical re-think...

Trade unions call for radical re-think...

The demerger of BT's mobile arm, BT Wireless, has been opposed by the Communications Workers Union (CWU), which is seeking a management about-turn on the deal. The CWU claims a number of its members, 80,000 of whom are employed by BT, would face an uncertain future if BT Wireless were spun off. It has not ruled out industrial action. In a twist, the union is courting the support of BT institutional shareholders, many of whom have been less than gushing about BT management decisions in the past. The CWU argues that when the decision was made to spin-off BT Wireless and Future BT the telco's debt mountain was higher. Now, post-rights issue and during a time of low valuations for mobile businesses, it could be argued divesting the division isn't necessary and won't raise large sums. BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland has been sent a letter by the CWU outlining the objections, and the union is also seeking a meeting with Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, to put forward its case. There are fears that a standalone BT Wireless would be attractive to an overseas mobile operator that would down the line seek to cut costs by laying off staff.