45% of members took part in the ballot. The ballot was convened at short notice, not least in order to gain a clear steer from members who had expressed huge concern at the changes. However, we accept that there are clearly some logistical difficulties currently in reaching members, particularly given the ongoing Covid crisis. Therefore, the turnout and result can be seen as a solid show of support for the union’s position.
The final vote was as follows:
Reject the changes 96%
Accept the changes 4%
This is an overwhelming, almost unanimous rejection of the proposals that BT plan to introduce on 1 June. Therefore, it demands that the company re-open discussion with the union in order to bridge the significant gap that currently exists between us on this matter.
As you may recall, the company were not prepared to accept any of the counter proposals the union put forward during the negotiations. However, Prospect believe that the magnitude of this rejection means that such an intransigent approach by BT is no longer tenable. Allied to the company’s own staff survey, which showed a majority of respondents were against the changes, this result is another call for BT to shift their position.
One major change that will be necessary is a contractual underpinning of redundancy terms. The policy around the new terms only emerged towards the end of negotiations and was finalised by BT shortly before the outcome of the review was disseminated to staff. The policy document, which the company have termed “Guiding Principles”, emphasises throughout the discretionary nature of the enhanced terms. It also states unequivocally that there is no contractual entitlement to enhanced terms. The union’s legal advice is that there is nothing to prevent the company from withholding enhanced terms in future redundancy exercises. Furthermore, collectively agreeing terms that are discretionary and not underpinned by any contractual protection would essentially rubber stamp the company’s ability to exercise their discretion.
Given the mandate we now have from members Prospect will be urging the company to reopen negotiations and to show a willingness to compromise that was demonstrably absent prior to the publication of the final proposals. Furthermore, if there is no movement from the company then we will have no hesitation in consulting members on what further measures we can take to force BT to change their stance.
Finally, once again thank you for taking part in the ballot and overwhelmingly supporting the union’s recommendation to reject the company’s proposals.
An important way you show support is by following us on Workplace and encouraging your colleagues to do likewise. You can find us on the links below.
and for members in Openreach, it is https://openreach.workplace.com/groups/1404567416378943/