Yesterday we shared with you our press statement following the announcement that BT is proposing to cut 13,000 managerial and back office roles in the next two years and there was a great deal of media interest in that story in particular but today I want to give you some more detail about what Prospect will be doing following that and the other announcements contained in Gavin Patterson’s statement.
First and foremost I want to make it clear that Prospect will oppose such a high level of cuts (potentially a third of managers and professionals in the UK) and will use all of the tools available to us to ensure that any redundancies that occur are achieved on a voluntary basis. It’s important to recognise that there are statutory consultation requirements when redundancies are being proposed and BT will need to declare a unit of redundancy in the part of the business where significant reductions are expected. We expect that consultation to take place in CFU’s and CU’s where Prospect’s industrial relations committees (IRC’s) will scrutinise the proposals and can challenge the numbers being proposed and discuss ways to avoid and to mitigate the need for the need for redundancies. We’ll obviously consult with impacted members throughout any consultation process. More details about the law around redundancy can be found here.
Where BT are proposing a reduction in the number of manager roles they will be following their reorganisation policy which emphasises the importance of redeployment, reskilling and retraining in a situation where restructuring takes place. The policy also includes enhanced voluntary redundancy terms which we explained back in January and can be found here. Prospect’s expectation is that there should be plenty of opportunity for members to opt for the voluntary redundancy terms and that compulsory redundancy can be avoided.
Review of BT locations
Yesterday’s statement also covered the sale of BT Centre and a review of BT’s office locations. The company have said that over the next 5 years they’re intending to identify and develop 30 key UK locations and to improve the working environment of their employees. Once again BT have committed to consult with the trade unions about this review and have already put in place a series of meetings to talk to us as the project develops. It’s too early to be able to say any more at this stage but we recognise that office location will be another area of concern for members and so we’ll be pressing for information about the 30 sites and where the London HQ will relocate to.
The People Framework
BT wants to move all employees currently on the Reward Framework to the new People Framework by March 2020. Prospect has been in negotiation with the company about their proposals to change the reward architecture but we’ve not yet been able to reach any agreement and so the company’s stated ambition to start transitioning people onto the People Framework from July 2018 looks over ambitious.
Under a collective agreement changes to terms and conditions have to be negotiated and agreed and there remain a number of concerns that Prospect have highlighted to the company about their proposals to move to career levels and broader pay ranges. In particular we have said that we’re concerned about pay differentials with team members, the pace of pay progression, increased management discretion in awarding performance pay and how that may impact BT’s gender pay gap. We have signposted these concerns to the company throughout the negotiations and highlighted them in our recent pay communication to members and we’re determined that we won’t agree new reward architecture unless these issues are satisfactorily addressed for the long term.