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Unity is strength, CWU tells members across BT Group, as Technology piles insult on injury

Unity is strength, CWU tells members across BT Group, as Technology piles insult on injury

Telecoms & Financial Services The seriousness of a compulsory redundancy bloodbath that is drawing to a head in BT Technology has today (Tuesday) been impressed on members in the division, with the CWU now convinced that the current jobs cull is about to be superseded by an even bigger one.

No fewer than 200 loyal and long-serving  employees, who’ve given their all to keep the country connected throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, are now within weeks of being forcibly ejected under what Technology admits is just ‘phase one’ if its ongoing ‘transformation’.

In a hard-hitting letter to members – which poignantly coincided with the revelation that a number of BT and Openreach senior managers have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for the role they played in maintaining the nation’s  broadband access at the height of the coronavirus crisis (link to BBC news story https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-54476525 – CWU assistant secretary Sally Bridge points out  that the compulsory redundancies already in the pipeline are taking place despite firm evidence provided by the CWU that the staff surplus could be painlessly addressed by voluntary means.

The CWU is not aware of any team member grade employees having been named in the Honours list – but what is certain is that those who will soon be receiving their P45s were required to work as  normally as possible through lockdown in their Government-recognised capacity as ‘key workers’.

Slamming Technology’s shoddy treatment of these workers, Sally explains:  “Numerous counter-proposals put forward by the union’s Technology National Team have been rebuffed, and late last month – in an extraordinary act of bad faith – senior management pulled the rug on the final CWU’s proposal, which would undoubtedly have eradicated the need for wholesale compulsory redundancies, even as the ink was drying on a draft agreement between company and CWU negotiators. (See story here <<link to https://www.cwu.org/news/dark-day-for-industrial-relations-in-bt-as-talks-to-avert-wholesale-compulsory-redundancies-in-technology-collapse/ )

“Like most companies, BT has had to change and adapt in these unprecedented times – and, given the turmoil in the UK economy, with so many job losses in the news, it’s easy to lose sight of the real reasons why BT are making such radical change. The unpalatable truth, however, is that the upheavals we’re seeing in Technology were planned long before the global pandemic – and none are Covid-related.”

Summarising a sorry roll-call of workforce betrayals, Sally points out that, when Technology announced its ‘phase one’ job losses in DI, SP and CIST under its so called ‘Transformation programme’, it was choice, not necessity, that led to a needless and shocking break with a decades-old approach to dealing with staff surpluses by voluntary means that has seen BT reduce its headcount by tens of thousands since privatisation without recourse to compulsory redundancy.

Instead, just weeks after BT’s Enterprise division claimed its first ever CR scalp in what the union is convinced was an initial and again totally needless  ‘trophy execution’ simply to make a point – Technology moved directly to serve compulsory redundancy notices rather than exhaust the time-honoured process with which the CWU has always fully co-operated.

Since then the company has announced that User Access Management work in IT will be offshored to India – directly leading to further compulsory redundancies in the UK at a time of a burgeoning national unemployment crisis. In a jaw-droppingly brazen display of managerial shamelessness, the CWU’s Technology National Team was told that there was no point in the union attempting to challenge the rationale of the decision, because the D1 and C3 graded work – commanding salaries in the region of £40,000 in the UK – could be conducted for pay levels of just £5,000 in Bangalore. (See story here <<link to https://www.cwu.org/news/shameless-technology-plumbs-the-depths-again-with-new-offshoring-outrage/)

Sally’s warning to members is unequivocal: “Many of the benefits and working conditions we have worked hard to achieve, including Pay and Pension Protection, are now under attack and your job security can no longer be taken for granted,” she insists.

“Further tranches of job losses are already known to be imminent – and that’s even before the full impact of the BT Group-wide ‘Better Workplace’ site rationalisation programme is truly felt.

“Technology has already announced that, over the next four years, its own variant of the Better Workplace Programme will concentrate activities that are currently conducted in hundreds of locations nationwide into just six ‘UK hubs’. These will displace an estimated 8,000 Technology employees (including managers), creating a redeployment challenge of gargantuan proportions  –  just as BT Group is displaying a new-found enthusiasm for compulsory redundancies as a first resort.”

Enough is enough!

In response to a raft of inter-related attacks on members across BT Group the CWU has launched its national #CountMeIn fightback – details of which can be found here .<<link to campaign web page https://www.cwu.org/campaign/count-me-in/)

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr is unequivocal about the scale of the threat to job security and hard won Ts&Cs posed by the belligerent new management approach that is sweeping across all parts of BT Group.

Senior management, he insists, is playing with fire – putting at risk decades of industrial peace that was based on a partnership approach to industrial relations that BT’s top brass now appears to be hell bent on shunning.

“The CWU will continue to do everything it can to fight against compulsory redundancies and the various other attacks members are experiencing in different lines of business – but, make no mistake; this is an attack on the job security and Ts&Cs of EVERYONE – and we must ALL stand together,” Andy stresses.

“Even if you’ve not been affected by any of the changes announced to date, you need to appreciate that your job may no longer be safe in this brutal new environment. Above everything, you need to support your union and colleagues by saying to BT that the way it’s behaving is simply not acceptable.

“Over the coming weeks the CWU intends to step up the pressure on BT, and a number of initiatives are planned. It is therefore important that you become involved and support your colleagues who are already under attack.

“Unity is strength – so watch this space and support the Count Me In campaign in whatever way you can!”

Posted: 14th October 2020

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