The union has now been informed of the organisation design for the Dynamic Networks and Dynamic IT areas of Technology. You may recall that consultation on C-level changes took place at the end of 2018. The business is now in a position to consult the union and employees on the changes that are being made at D and E levels.
This is one of the largest reorganisations that the union has had to deal with in Technology, under the wider programme to introduce the People Framework. Across the two areas there are 1253 employees in scope. Most of the roles are ‘lift-and-shift’ and by definition involve no selection process. However, there are 25 potential redundancies as part of this exercise, as a result of a number of ‘reducing pools’ for certain roles. Notwithstanding this, there are 63 new D-level roles and 90 new E-level roles across Dynamic Infrastructure. Therefore, the union sees no reason why anyone should be compelled to leave the business if they still wish to work for BT.
The union remains concerned whenever the business deems it necessary to invoke a redundancy exercise in BT. We had been assured by BT that redundancy would only be used as a last resort and in the Technology Unit we believed there would be a minimal number of redundancies. Unfortunately, this is the sixth redundancy consultation that Technology has run since October 2018. Whilst the union and the company have worked extremely hard to avoid anyone being made compulsory redundant, Prospect still maintain that a company of BT’s size should be able to avoid such exercises. Furthermore, we are aware that BT is still employing a huge number of agency staff and we are not convinced that enough is being done to free up these roles for ‘at risk’ employees.
In addition to the above concerns, the union remains sceptical of the job-sizing approach being used to determine the appropriate career level, not least while it continues to be opaque and members have very little engagement with the process. This process has also resulted in a number of members being placed ‘over the range’ in terms of pay rates under the new levels. Whilst a number of exceptions have been made, there are 52 employees who are ‘over the range’ and where pay cuts may be enacted. In law your contract cannot be changed without your agreement. However, BT has, in some instances, sought to threaten members with being ‘fired and rehired’ if they refuse to accept a pay cut. This is a highly dubious and provocative measure under employment law and we have cautioned BT during the collective consultation that we will oppose such measures in the strongest possible terms. Moreover, the union can provide further support and advice for members placed in this invidious position.
You will also be aware that the union continues to have major reservations about the People Framework being used to reduce pay and conditions for members. Moreover, you will be aware that the company disgracefully decided to implement the framework whilst still claiming to be in negotiations with the union. For this reason Prospect balloted members, calling on them to reject BT’s final offer on the People Framework.
Prospect recognises the stress and uncertainty that this announcement will cause to members and we will be doing all we can to ensure that no-one who wishes to remain with the business is compelled to leave. To this end we negotiated a reorganisation policy earlier last year that places obligations on BT to explore a variety of options before declaring redundancies. These include looking at redeployment opportunities and filling roles currently performed, in very large numbers, by agency staff and contractors. Indeed, during the collective consultation the union will insist that the company is leaving no stone unturned to find alternative roles for members. In addition to the mitigation measures the union has also negotiated an agreement that everyone ‘at risk’ of redundancy is given the opportunity to apply for Enhanced Voluntary terms (EVR).
Finally, over the course of the next few weeks the union will work with the company to explore any opportunity to minimise the number of redundancies. We also understand that once individuals are placed ‘at risk’ of redundancy they will have the opportunity to express an interest in EVR. In terms of the collective consultation process, this will continue until the union and business believe they have exhausted the process of looking for mitigation to any redundancies. In terms of individual consultation it is proposed that any redundancies will be made on 31 May, although the union will seek to extend this where members still have outstanding applications for roles in the business. The individual consultation process for those in scope for redundancy will begin at the start of next week and you will have the right to trade union representation at these meetings and any others that ensue. Furthermore, you will have the right to reschedule meetings to ensure your representative is available to accompany you. If you do require representation then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org