BT Global has today (Thursday) become the latest line of business in BT Group to announce its long-term site location strategy – in the process exacerbating concerns of mass staff dislocation which have been mounting across the company in recent weeks.
Specifically heralded as being part of the Group-wide Better Workplace Programme , Global’s plans involve the division centralising on just five major locations – Bristol, Birmingham, Ipswich, London and Manchester, while maintaining an ‘operational presence’ in Glasgow, Leeds and Newcastle.
“This announcement will be of serious concern to our members whose current locations do not feature in Global’s site strategy,” stresses CWU national officer for Global, Allan Eldred. “Of particular concern are those currently employed in BT Conferencing in Shrewsbury.
“The conferencing unit has the highest concentration of team members anywhere in Global and makes up over 25% (excluding security) of the total Team member workforce in Global. This will be devastating news not just for the individuals but for the whole town. It’s simply an act of corporate vandalism.
“There are many other locations with relatively small numbers that Global are abandoning. Each of the missing locations potentially represents a personal tragedy for those employed in them.
“My intention, however, is not to repeat what Global has announced today: it is to place on record that the CWU will be fighting to maintain the maximum number of jobs in locations that our members can get to in reasonable travelling time.”
Pointing out that the issues raised by today’s announcement in Global have a direct correlation with other site rationalisation proposals that are in the process of being announced elsewhere in BT Group, Allan continues: “This is happening across every part of BT and not just Global. The union’s campaign to protect jobs will do likewise and be company-wide and will involve the whole of the CWU membership in BT because ALL of us will be affected by this.
“Members in those locations that do have a long-term future should also be under no illusion that their jobs are safe. This announcement has been about site strategy, not about the impact of artificial intelligence, cost reductions or the impact of Covid.”
This morning’s bombshell by Global comes just four days after a separate announcement in BT Enterprise threw the future of its operations in a number of major sites into doubt.
Bizarrely, unlike Global, in unveiling Enterprise’s Better Workplace proposals, that division could not be persuaded to provide a definitive list of its current sites which could be easily compared with its announced ‘future sites’. Compounding the confusion, and making it even harder for the union and members to assess the likely scale of the redeployment challenges that lie ahead, Enterprise has made vague reference to ‘further site locations being announced in the future’ – but Allan insists this “will do nothing to allay the fears of our members.”
Commenting on current management silence over the future of Enterprise activities in even a number of major sites, Allan continues: “We would have expected some of these sites to have been referenced in any initial announcement on the future strategy of Enterprise – but the radio silence to date means it’s far from clear what management’s intentions are with respect to these locations.
“We accept that Monday’s announcement by Enterprise was the start of the process rather than the end – and equally we accept that some questions will remain that can’t currently be answered – but what we cannot accept is the sustained trauma that the company is putting our membership through.
“It won’t have been lost on members that this initiative has been announced at a time when Enterprise is pressing ahead with compulsory redundancies. I’m afraid that the conclusion that members have to draw is that nobody’s job is safe,” Allan concludes.