LTB 255/2020 – BT Enterprise – Threat of Compulsory Redundancies
15 May 2020
BT Enterprise: Threat of Compulsory Redundancies
I am conscious that it is some time since branches have been updated on the continued threat of compulsory redundancies. There have been a range of incidents and activities since the last update, which will be of interest to branches.
Individuals with 31st March Leaving date
All those that had a proposed leaving date of the 31st March have been resolved through voluntary redundancy or by the individuals taking up an alternative role. The break- down of numbers of this is unknown for the reasons that I will come to next. The whole exercise was painful to say the least with many of this number originally being told that it was not appropriate for them to take up particular roles and work from home; a fallacy that has been more than disproved by the current Covid-19 contingencies.
Closure of Collective Consultation
A letter was received from management on 26th March formally closing collective consultation on the redundancies. It is a legal requirement to notify the union that collective consultation has formally ended. While the statutory consultation period had been and gone, it is clear to the team that the collective consultation had not “genuinely been completed”. That said, the stipulation of “genuinely complete” appears to only apply if they close the consultation period before the statutory period of consultation has ended. This was not the case.
The net effect of this was that the periodic meetings that the union had with the Directors of each Enterprise business to discuss the redundancies ended and they have stopped providing us with weekly updates by location of the numbers resolved and those unresolved. Work continues to take place with the HRBPs to attempt to resolve cases but management’s action have made that task harder. It has also recently become apparent that management appear to no longer be attempting to find alternative roles for the in-scope population. We draw this conclusion through some of the responses that the team has received from management, when we have made attempts to provide solutions for people without an alternative role who remain in-scope. We have also had a number of cases where members that are in-scope for redundancy have been unsuccessful in job applications that they clearly have the skills for. Some cases concerning home workers have been escalated to senior management.
Proposal to Suspend Redundancies
The union wrote to the company on the 16th March proposing the suspension of all IC meetings and the withdrawal of all unresolved redundancy notices in light of the Covid-19 emergency. This was refused by management on the grounds that it would prolong the uncertainty for those in-scope. The union again wrote to management on 20th March saying that the defining of people within our sector as Key Workers, provided management with the opportunity to reconsider their position on this. They again refused on the same grounds as previously.
The union escalated the issue on April 9th and added to the reasons for suspension, the fact that the redeployment process had effectively been closed by management and BT was therefore not fulfilling its legal obligation to look for alternative roles for those in-scope for compulsory redundancy. Management rejected the escalation saying that, …” we continue to have adequate opportunity to fulfil, and in some cases exceed, our legal obligations.”
The team believe that the redeployment process has to all practical purposes closed and some people in-scope that applied for roles prior to the Covid-19 emergency, have heard nothing since. We now have confirmed evidence that vacancies have been placed on hold and we have again written to management arguing that it is only reasonable to suspend the IC meetings and withdraw any redundancy notices issued to our members, until such time as the redeployment process reopens and our members have been given adequate time to look for alternative roles.
Given the above, branches will be as outraged as us that in one unit members with a final day of service with the company of the June 30th, have been asked to return to work the very next day on agency terms to carry on doing their job and to train the people recruited to take their jobs.
Management quoted a figure of 76 unresolved cases, in the letter rejecting our escalation of the proposal to suspend the IC meetings and withdraw the redundancy notices. This figure we believe includes a significant number of people for which there are known resolutions that have yet to be completed. We were however advised on 1st May that a number of jobs for managed Services people in Sevenoaks have not materialised because BT has not won a security contract, which they had anticipated winning. This is being investigated by the team but is devastating news for those people in Sevenoaks, who are among the highest skilled tem members that the company has.
We are aware of four people that currently have confirmed dates for compulsory redundancy. We know that at least one of these has a confirmed date of the 31st May and one the 30th June.
Outside of these cases, we have people with scheduled final dates at the end of June, July and August. In most of these cases, the individual consultation meetings have not yet been completed. As far as the NT is aware, it has been some time since any in-scope person has secured an alternative role and we genuinely believe that the redeployment process as we know it has effectively been closed.
The NT as instructed by the Executive has been attempting to work with branches and management to find alternative roles but as the situation outlined above shows, we now have serious doubts whether management are committed to this task.