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O2 workers look set to strike over a pay dispute with the mobile phone outfit after delegates at a conference voted unanimously for "any action necessary up to and including industrial action in order to receive a fair and just settlement".

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) claims some staff haven't received a pay rise for at least seven years while "fat cat" directors have been "busy awarding themselves massive pay rises".

Senior union official Dave Johnson told the CWU's Telecoms Industry Conference in Blackpool yesterday: "This issue no longer amounts to a difference of opinion simply about the money on offer to our members. It's about principles and ideology.

"There are a number of issues which are of fundamental importance to us as a trade union and more importantly to our members in O2 who quite rightly feel demoralised, undervalued and extremely bitter about the way in which this company has treated them - not just this year's but ever since the demerger from BT.

In an all-out assault he said: "They [the workers] are angry, and with every justification, at a board of directors who hypocritically seek to depress the wages of our members whilst at the same time awarding themselves significant increases in their own salaries and fees.

"There are many ways of describing this application of double standards...'the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer' is one; 'fat cats and feathered nests' also spring to mind."

Earlier this year O2 announced plans to axe some 500 jobs including 200 IT staff as part of a major restructuring. It is also to spend £6m a year to sponsor the Millennium dome.

No one at O2 was available for comment at the time of writing. ®

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