Agency conversions in Openreach

Telecoms & Financial Services

Grading discussions are underway with Openreach to evaluate the roles of 44 agency workers in Leeds prior to their ‘conversion’ to permanent employee status.

The team in question – all of whom deal with FTTP (fibre to the premises) enquiries from the full range of communications providers – are currently employed by Manpower, even though the roles they are conducting are clearly not time-limited.

Some have already given more than two years’ service, and once the CWU became aware of their plight the union immediately escalated a demand for permanent contracts to be issued in line with last year’s BT Group wide agreement to phase out of exploitative agency contracts.

Openreach National Team (NT) member Fiona Curtis recently met with HR on site to commence a grading evaluation following the company’s in-principle agreement to the union’s request.

“We spent time with a number of the agency employees in question to get a better overall view of the work they are doing and what it entails,” explains Fiona.

“As such we’ve seen first-hand the invaluable work these people do for the company, and we can only see this work increasing due to FTTP uptake and the work that is ongoing with regards to the fibre network.

“At present discussions are continuing between ourselves and HR with a view to getting a proper evaluation of this role. This can take some time due to differences in our view and that of the company as to where this work sits, but once the process is complete we’ll have 44 people converted to full time contracts in Openreach.”

Fiona, who in addition to her Openreach NT role is young workers officer for the Northern Ireland Telecoms Branch and vice chair of the CWU Young Workers national committee, concludes: “At present the members in question are paid around £18,000 a year by Manpower, and the CWU is hopeful that the upshot of our grading discussions will be an increase on that.

“For the individuals in question, however, the most important thing is that they will soon be on permanent contracts. That’s not just because agency employment is inherently less secure, but also because of the difficulties faced by agency workers trying to take out mortgages and loans.

“It’s pretty much impossible to be approved for thinks like mortgages if you don’t have a permanent contract – and as such the entire team is really pleased that the CWU is working on their behalf.”