Assurances sought for BT Supply Chain members as another transfer looms

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT


Close tabs are being kept on the latest changes being proposed by Supply Chain bosses, with the union demanding clarity and genuine options for members caught up in an intra-BT Group transfer involving ‘Staging & Configuration’ work.

Announced to concerned staff on Thursday last week, it is already apparent that the intention to move the work to Enterprise Field Services (EFS) – which is in the process of becoming part of BT Business – presents stark choices to those impacted.

That’s because, despite the ‘internal’ nature of the transfer, the Staging & Configuration work that is currently conducted in Magna Park, Staines and Leicester is set to physically move to Barlborough in Derbyshire.

Phase One will see the work leaving Magna Park on June 1, with Leicester and Staines following suit on October 1.

Supply Chain bosses claim that 24 of the 32 in-scope employees are ‘directable’ to Barlborough under the 90 minutes travel time policy – but even the company concedes that its travel time analysis  has revealed that for many that will involve a 100 mile-plus daily round trip to a site that isn’t well served by public transport.

Given that, for many, the rush hour commute by road would take in the  notoriously snarl-up prone M1, the CWU has robustly challenged the company’s calculations and has secured a commitment from Supply Chain that it will consider requests for voluntary redundancy terms from even ‘directable’ colleagues on a case-by-case basis.

CWU national officer Tracey Fussey explains: “Anyone familiar with the  M1 knows the distances these people would be expected to drive on a daily basis to meet their start times would be daunting to say the least and, I’d suggest, pretty much unsustainable a long-term basis.

“As such, the National Team strongly doubts whether any of the loyal and experienced Staging & Configuration employees will opt to follow their jobs to Barlborough which, apart from being tragic in itself, means profound questions need to be answered before the proposed ‘lift and shift’ of these members into EFS/ BT Business occurs on April 1.”

With a CWU counter-proposal for a new location being found for the work – which BT has advised needs to move from Magna Park anyway under the terms last May’s outsourcing of warehouse and transport operations to GXO – firmly rebuffed by management, the union’s primary focus is on ensuring that genuine options are provided for those who do not want to leave employment.

“The company has confirmed that there will be a focus on seeking alternative employment during the individual consultation process and that it will continue to look at alternatives to placing people at risk of redundancy throughout the process,” Tracey continues.

“However, the National Team remains extremely concerned as to the options for members and their future job security in BT, and will be progressing every opportunity to find solutions for these members – including whether any opportunities exist with GXO at Magna Park.

Vindication of earlier CWU concerns…

The upheavals triggered by last week’s announcement by Supply Chain vindicate concerns expressed by the union about the future of ‘Staging & Configuration’ work in advance of the larger TUPE transfer of warehousing and transport operations to GXO last May.

At the time the CWU pointed out the inconsistency of members conducting that work at Magna Park  being ‘ring-fenced’ and paced out of scope of the TUPE to GXO despite BT’s handover of the site and a commitment to GXO that it would exit it altogether by May 31 this year.

The strangest anomaly of the latest proposals, however, involves two of the 288 employees Supply Chain previously outsourced to GXO being earmarked for transfer back into Supply Chain – just in time for their relocation from Magna Park to Barlborough and probable redundancy on day one of the transfer on account of the impossibility of the commute!

“We are far from comfortable with this development and are seeking a meeting with GXO and BT to discuss this proposal,” stresses Tracey. 

“We’ve already been in discussion regarding alternative solutions in terms of job security with GXO and are hopeful that something far more positive than that detailed is forthcoming,” she concludes.