Opposition to any worsening of BT redundancy terms

Opposition to any worsening of BT redundancy terms

Prospects response to BTs announcement of a review of redundancy terms contained within the Reorganisation Policy.

  • BT has announced a review of redundancy terms contained within the Reorganisation Policy.
  • The current Reorganisation Policy was negotiated and agreed in good faith in 2018.
  • Prospect ask members to join our campaign to protect those agreed redundancy terms.

Today you may have seen the announcement by BT that they are to launch a review of redundancy and paid leaver terms in the UK. The company has also written separately to Prospect announcing a review of the Reorganisation Policy that the union negotiated and agreed with BT at the start of 2018. Furthermore, BT has also served notice to the CWU on the redundancy terms that were agreed for team members two years ago.

It is always very concerning when employers make an announcement about reviewing redundancy terms, not least because such a review rarely sees them being improved. In the context of BT it is particularly concerning, given that the current terms were agreed two years ago and have only been in operation for the past 18 months, with the advent of the People Framework reorganisation. The view of the Union is that the Reorganisation Policy has worked relatively well in ensuring that compulsory redundancies have been avoided. Moreover, whilst it has not always been the case, the level of EVR payments has enabled those who were content to leave the business to do so and at the same time created opportunities for those who wish to remain within BT Group. Therefore, the union can see no good reason for changing the terms in the Reorganisation Policy, unless BT wish to improve them of course.

In the announcement to employees the company have made it clear that the review is also looking at the agreement struck with our CWU colleagues. This agreement forms part of the CWU/BT pension agreement, which requires a notice period of one year to change. The company has made it clear that they have no intention of revisiting pension arrangements, but that the review is purely focused on redundancy and leaver terms. That clarification is welcome, but it should not be forgotten that the Reorganisation Policy agreed with Prospect was also integral to gaining agreement from the Union to the changes to the BT Pension Scheme. Indeed, when BT abandoned the redundancy provisions that were part of the Pension Scheme, they sought Prospect members’ agreement with the promise that new terms and a Reorganisation Policy would be put in place. Therefore, to seek to review those terms so soon does look premature to put it mildly.

Another facet of the announcement is the intention to include in the review the various paid leaver schemes that are also used when employees leave the business. BT says that current arrangements are too complex, in that there are seven different schemes that apply across the manager and team member populations. The Union has some sympathy for this argument, in that we have frequently questioned the inconsistency in terms being offered when the company is calling for volunteers to apply under the paid leaver schemes. However, Prospect remains circumspect that the intention of the review is to harmonise redundancy and leaver terms to those expressed in the Reorganisation Policy. We wish that was the case, but the serving of notice on the similar terms that apply to team members does not indicate that the current Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy terms are likely to remain unchanged following the review.

Prospect will of course take part in the review in good faith and we want to make sure that the company has in place a fair Reorganisation Policy and redundancy terms that take account of the service and hard work that members have performed for BT over the years. We will also support the company in putting in place an enhanced package of support for those who wish to move on from the business and develop their careers elsewhere. However, what we cannot support is the outcome of a review that calls for the degradation of our members’ current redundancy terms.

It is vital that the Union has your support on this issue and for the challenges ahead. Furthermore, if you know a colleague who is not in the union then urge them to become a member of Prospect and join our campaign to protect redundancy terms. Below you will see links to our Workplace sites in BT and Openreach – please visit them and join the debate.

Finally, your BT Committee, which is made up of volunteers who are employees just like you, need your support in what is likely to be an extremely challenging period over the next year. Moreover, remember it is only the unions that can negotiate your terms and conditions and not bodies selected and appointed by BT Executives such as the Colleague Board. Once again thank you for your support for the Union.         

Please continue to follow us on Workplace at https://bt.workplace.com/groups/ProspectUnion/

and for members in Openreach, it is https://openreach.workplace.com/groups/1404567416378943/