Britain's BT nears union deal with new cost-of-living pay rise

By Suban Abdulla

LONDON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - BT BT.L said on Monday it had struck a wage deal that could bring an end to industrial action after it agreed to pay all but its most senior staff in Britain a special rise reflecting the rising cost of living.

Britain's former telecoms monopoly has, like many other large employers across a range of sectors, seen its staff go out on strike this year after surging inflation left many workers struggling to cover their bills each month.

Under the deal announced on Monday, BT said all colleagues who earn 50,000 pounds ($60,260) or less would get a 1,500 pounds pay rise from Jan. 1 - a consolidated salary increase and not a one-off payment.

Combined with the 1,500 pounds increase offered in April, the total pay rise for the lowest paid workers will be over 15% since the same time period last year, it said.

BT said the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Prospect unions would recommend that members vote in favour of the offer and in the case of the larger CWU union, this would bring an end to industrial action if members agree.

The CWU said the deal represented a hike ranging from 6-16% for employees of different grades and workers will be balloted on the offer.

Some 40,000 BT workers have taken part in walkouts and CWU general secretary Dave Ward said the new terms would not have been agreed without the strike action.

"The bravery these workers displayed caught the sympathy of the country, and shocked the company out of its complacency," he said.

Workers in several sectors including railways, airlines and the postal network have held industrial strikes over pay and work conditions in recent months as 41-year high inflation squeezes incomes. Nurses are set to strike for two days in December for the first time in 106 years.

Other companies including Tesco TSCO.L , Marks and Spencer MKS.L and the John Lewis Partnership have offered their staff bonuses, pay advances and raises to help with the surging cost of living.

($1 = 0.8297 pounds)
Additional reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Kate Holton

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