For the past eight months BT has been proclaiming in the media that they have been keeping the country connected. In reality it has been the many thousands of staff working for the company who have ensured that the UK economy has been able to function during an unprecedented global pandemic. Despite this huge commitment from staff, many of them Prospect members, the company has displayed some breathtaking opportunism during the pandemic. This began with the decision not to award managers a pay rise and continued with an acceleration of relocations and office closures under the Better Workplace Programme. Furthermore, the People Framework reorganisation has morphed into further reorganisations with potentially hundreds of redundancies now being threatened in Technology.
The feeling of a pincer movement by the company against the jobs and terms and conditions of members in BT was exacerbated when proposals to drastically reduce redundancy terms, particularly for long-serving members, were announced two months ago. You will know that the company has been intransigent during talks with unions, refusing to show any compromise and insisting that the cap on redundancy pay will be reduced from two-years to one-year.
BT has now tightened the screw further on employees in the most vulnerable position, those facing losing their jobs as a result of redundancy. In a bewildering move BT has now announced that from 1 December, if a member threatened by redundancy shows initiative and finds a new role in the business, rather than being offered a suitable alternative role by BT, their existing terms and conditions will no longer be protected and they will move to People Framework terms. This seems to be an astonishing move at a time when there is so much uncertainty and so many are facing the prospect of looking for a new role as a result of reorganisation and the Better Workplace Programme. Furthermore, halving sick pay for these employees during a global pandemic is punitive in the extreme.
This provocative move will only further damage employee relations in BT. The message now being sent by the company is that your job is not safe, you will get less redundancy pay if you are forced to leave and if you do find a new role we will cut your terms and conditions. This cannot go on and Prospect, in solidarity with our colleagues in the CWU, will continue to oppose this aggressive and counter-productive approach being taken by BT. We will need your support over the next few months as it will be essential that we are able to show the company the strength of feeling amongst our members. It is only by all trade union members standing together that we will make BT reset their approach to employee relations and stop them from punishing their own workers.
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/