National secretary Philippa Childs stressed that Prospect’s discussions with the company on major changes to pay ranges, staffing structures and roles have not been completed.
BT’s proposed new structure is aiming for fewer layers of management and significantly fewer professional roles, particularly at middle and senior levels, meaning that many of the company’s proposed job cuts may arise through this process.
The union is campaigning for any job cuts to be achieved on a voluntary basis as far as possible.
Regarding the wider People Framework, Childs said: “We do not think that BT should have published these incomplete proposals, or should try to start implementing the People Framework on a piecemeal basis, before there is a clear proposal on offer.
“Once the proposals are finalised, we will be balloting members with a recommendation to accept or reject, depending on the outcome of our further negotiations.”
On pay, the company wants to move away from multiple pay ranges to a few very broad pay ranges.
Childs warned: “In our view such broad pay ranges – and the associated lack of transparency, particularly around job evaluation and pay progression – will cause very significant problems, both initially and on an ongoing basis.”
Long pay ranges and increased freedoms for managers to award increases based on performance could widen the pay gap and lead to other inequalities, the union believes. Ranges that are too low could exacerbate long-standing differentials with team members.
The union is also concerned that BT’s proposed new grading system could result in significant numbers of people being downgraded.
“We would prefer a greater number of pay ranges based on a robust job evaluation system. This would still hugely simplify the current reward framework. It would be more transparent, the pay ranges would be much narrower and employees would still see a reasonable opportunity to progress,” said Childs.
“In our view pay progression, equal pay and reward for performance would also be easier to manage. To date BT has rejected our proposals but we are keeping up the pressure.”
Prospect has been talking to BT about transition arrangements to protect individuals’ existing terms and conditions once they are assimilated into new structures. The company has offered some protections, but people promoted to a new role at a higher level could face inferior terms and conditions.
Also unresolved is the level of protection for staff whose current pay is higher than the new pay range they may be moved into.