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Cath Everett

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Union urges BT employees with damaged hearing to claim

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Only days after the Communications Workers Union voted to accept BT’s pay deal worth 9.3% over three years, it is urging engineers suffering from tinnitus and deafness to seek compensation from the telco for potential negligence.

 
Compensation claims are currently being looked at in Cardiff County Court, which has asked the solicitors involved to consider whether it would be appropriate to impose a Group Litigation Order, which would be subject to a time limit.
 
As a result, the union is encouraging BT engineers suffering from tinnitus and deafness who have used oscillators and amplifier tone sets in the past to contact it immediately as it claims that they may have been “negligently exposed” to high noise while using the equipment.
 
The CWU has indicated that workers may be eligible for compensation if they used green or a combination of green and yellow tone sets, although BT is disputing liability for the use of only yellow or blue tone sets. The average award is £7,000, but may be “significantly higher in certain cases”, it added.
 
The move comes only days after members of the union voted by an 86.6% majority to accept BT’s 39 month pay deal, bringing an end to months of negotiations and uncertainty.
 
The pay rise, which will be backdated to 1 January this year, will be implemented in more than 50,000 members’ pay packets from August. It includes a 3% “fully consolidated and pensionable increase to base pay from 1 January 2011 and a further 3% increment from 1 January 2012.
 
However, should the November 2011 retail price index rise above 3.2% or drop below 2.5%, “both sides agree to meet and discuss the impact of this and seek to agree an optimum position”, the union said.
 
BT is still waiting to hear the outcome of proceedings at the High Court in London undertaken by Trustees of its pension scheme to clarify the terms and scope of the Crown Guarantee governing the scheme.
 

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