Members may have seen the news today in respect of the company’s end-of-year results. The main headline from these results is the suspension of BT’s share dividend for the next two years and a cut of 50% in the dividend for 2022. This would appear to be a sensible and prudent decision on the part of the company given what is happening more broadly with the Covid 19 crisis and the need for BT to invest billions of pounds into broadband infrastructure over the coming years.
Unlike announcements of the past few years, there are no specifics on job reductions or the future shape of the BT office estate. Clearly, changes under the Better Workplace programme, that is supposed to facilitate a move to “around 30” locations, are currently on hold, not least because of Covid 19 and uncertainties about when and how the majority of employees will return to office working. Prospect are currently meeting with the company on a weekly basis to discuss the impact of Covid 19 and a key component of these discussions is ensuring that any return to office working minimises the risk of transmitting the virus and ensures, as much as possible the safety of members. The union will communicate more details as these talks progress.
In terms of job cuts, today’s announcement reiterates what the Chief Executive has said previously, in that there will be no redundancies as a result of the Covid 19 crisis until “at least July”. Whilst this reiteration will provide some short-term comfort, it does indicate there may be some unwelcome news later in the year. Furthermore, the company continues to push ahead with redundancies where consultation was already underway prior to the crisis. The union will continue to fight this, and demand that no redundancies are carried out at this time. Indeed, BT’s intransigence on this point and refusal to show good intent does not reflect well upon the business.
Overall, the results for 2019/20 are within the range of forecasts. This should be positive news in terms of bonus payments for members. You will recall the company’s divisive decision not to award a pay increase to managers, whilst increasing pay for team members by 1.5%. When making this announcement the Chief Executive highlighted the fact that managers qualify for bonus payments. Therefore, on the basis of today’s results we would expect our members to receive a bonus in June and thus some reward for the work they have done in keeping the country connected through this unprecedented crisis.
Finally, the union is concerned to see the company giving primacy to the Colleague Board when talking about improving “colleague engagement”. As you will be aware the Colleague Board is not independent of the business and has been selected by the Executive Board, rather than by their fellow employees. Furthermore, they have no legal right to negotiate or consult with BT. Only the unions are able to provide you with independent representation and only unions are able to hold the company to account when we believe they are acting against your interests. Your elected representatives, who are volunteers and employees just like you, are working hard every day on behalf of members. They are protecting and saving jobs and will continue to do so with your support.
Please remember 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/