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BT remains hopeful that looming industrial action can be averted, amid fears that its broadband network could be impaired if staff strike.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has called a ballot of its 60,000 members over whether to walk out in the event that BT does not yield to its demands for a two per cent pay rise.

Should they go ahead with plans to down tools, it would represent the first BT strike for 23 years.

Among those involved are engineers who oversee maintenance of BT’s network as well as customer support operatives.

According to Kevin Slocombe, spokesperson for CWU, this could mean that customers in some areas could be left without a phone and broadband service entirely.

He told the Metro: “Many business and residential phonelines could go out of action, and if broadband crashes then thousands and thousands of people will find their internet goes down.”

In an official statement, BT has responded by calling for the CWU to accept its existing pay rise offer, which a spokesperson described as “fair, realistic and more generous than those they have accepted elsewhere”.

He added: "Our hope is to avoid industrial action. We are disappointed by the CWU's decision to call a ballot but our door remains open.”

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