The first motion was moved by Tim Handley (TSO IRC), who described the job losses as “BT’s Brexit”. He suggested that where the nation had gambled away its economy for blue passports, BT was sacrificing 13,000 jobs to save those at the top.
The successful motion called on the committee to gather evidence of the impact of unworkable job cuts and use that to push back on BT’s “completely unrealistic plans”.
It also advocated keeping open “the option of industrial action, both generally and in specific high profile areas”.
The committee was directed to press the company to:
- minimise compulsory redundancies and maximise effective redeployment processes
- minimise external hiring into Prospect-represented grades other than for the graduate scheme.
- ensure that BT people displace subcontractors and agency staff before staff lose their jobs
- ensure that work from closed roles is not passed on to survivors who already have full workloads.
Izzy Lane (BT Adastral Park B), moved the second emergency motion, calling on the BT committee to push to keep job losses to a minimum. It said displaced people must be offered suitable alternative roles, with individuals not intimidated into accepting any so-called “voluntary” leavers’ package.
Lane stressed that proper retraining must be offered and alternative offers should be at the same grade and in a suitable location.
In debate on both motions, Andy Bailey (BT Mid Yorkshire) said he was tired of BT treating the union with contempt. “It’s time for action, because if we don’t act now there might not be anyone left to take action in the future.”
Andy Harding (BT Thames and Wey Valley) believed members should take industrial action “if BT does not provide adequate answers to the valid concerns raised by Prospect”.
John Borowski (BT Brentwood) appealed for guidance on how to engage members in action.
Summing up, Angus Wheeler-Rowe (BT committee) said that the union’s aim should be to achieve zero compulsory redundancies and ensure survivors were not expected to take on any extra work.
While accepting a need for change, “this must be controlled, considered and careful. And they have got to get us on board”.
Action at times spoke louder than words and “we are going to have to unite in this campaign”.
- Photo by John Birdsall, above, shows the delegates taking a vote
- Read more BT conference stories here.