Attack on T&Cs of lowest paid new hires in BT Consumer and EE ’highly provocative’, warns CWU

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT, EE

The CWU has lodged a formal disagreement with BT Group over an ‘unprecedented’ decision by BT Consumer and EE to impose cuts to the terms and condition of some of the company’s  lowest paid new recruits.

Anger at the unagreed and ‘highly provocative’ move – which flies in the face of the longstanding partnership approach to industrial relations under which any changes to Ts&Cs are subject to negotiation and agreement – is compounded by the fact that those employed in the grades affected are classed as ‘key workers’ in the current COVID-19 crisis.

The unilaterally imposed changes – scheduled to be introduced for new starters from May 1 – will have a particularly profound effect in BT Consumer where they will cut pay rates, exempt new recruits from the 2020 pay review, remove Sunday payments and reduce the number of paid bank holidays.

“This undermines all our agreements in all lines of business,” warns CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr. “It doesn’t matter what part of BT you work in. This has implications for us all.

“For the first time this century, BT workers in different parts of the company will be paid differently for Sunday and Bank Holiday attendances and also have different amounts of leave.

“The new pay rates – which will not be reviewed until 2021, even though talks on the 2020 pay review are currently underway for existing staff – will also mean there will be three or four tiers of workers in Consumer contact centres doing the same work.

“BT is attempting to justify the changes as a step towards harmonisation with EE. However, our aim has always been to push up the EE arrangements, not use EE as an excuse to cut agreed BT terms and conditions.” (Full details of the imposed changes in Consumer can be viewed in BT members’ bulletin no. 96/20)

While the impact is less profound in EE , the move will still result in lower pay levels for H2 grade new starters in Campaigns and Customer care. While commission rates are being increased for those individuals the CWU is pointing out that commission, unlike base pay, is never guaranteed. (See full details in EE members’ bulletin no. 97/20)

Andy concludes: “As a result of the cuts in terms and conditions for new hires, the union’s Executive has registered a formal disagreement with BT. This is an established part of industrial relations and normally results in a pause to allow both sides to resolve our differences.  It is only invoked in the most serious situations. However, BT has refused to abide by this process and gone ahead with the announcements.

“This move by BT/EE is an unprecedented and highly provocative attack on the lowest paid. Despite the problems caused by COVID the CWU will continue to oppose these changes and work to secure a fair deal for all our members.”