BT workers have voted to strike in protest at their planned transfer to corporate reseller Computacenter in an outsourcing deal. The action could do serious damage to the outsourcing industry, according to experts.
The 436 BT employees were asked by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) whether they would be prepared to take part in industrial action. A total of 227 voted yes, with 52 saying no and the remaining 157 abstaining.
Robert Morgan, chief executive at outsourcing company Morgan Chambers, said: "This is a very sad day for outsourcing and could set it back a couple of years.
"The deal will definitely go ahead but [BT] will have to pay more for the deal and Computacenter will have a management challenge."
He explained that the news could dissuade businesses from outsourcing because of possible bad publicity and employee problems.
The vote will now be discussed at a CWU executive meeting with the result expected later today (Tuesday).
Ian Cuthbert, assistant secretary at the CWU, said that the number of those who abstained "does reflect a degree of uncertainty, but that the majority that voted said yes to a strike".
Morgan explained: "It is unusual for it to have got to a point where there could be a strike ballot called, and even more unusual to get to a point where the majority say yes.
"The blame lies with [BT] because it did not engage the workers and workers' council at an early enough stage to show them the opportunities."
He added that the workers that are to be transferred should have been given a better and more focused career path at Computacenter.
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