Betrayed by BT: One member’s dilemma – compulsory redundancy or a £13,000 pay cut?Telecoms & Financial Services, BT January 13 2021
Wednesday 13th January 2021
In the second of a series of articles exploring the devastating impact of BT’s new found enthusiasm for compulsory redundancies on individuals who find themselves at the sharp end, we look at how management’s cynical reinterpretation of Pay and Pension Protection left one West London member with an impossible dilemma…
The cruelty of BT’s new-found taste for compulsory redundancies has taken many forms – ranging from meaningless lip-service to redeployment options that have typically been left entirely to ‘at risk’ individuals to explore with zero management help, to a cynical reinterpretation of long-standing protocols on pay and pension protection (PPP).
That bombshell first emerged when the initial redundancy consultation in BT Enterprise was followed by another in Technology – where management suddenly decreed that PPP does not apply in redundancy situations except where displaced individuals are specifically directed into lower-paying roles by their bosses.
In treating those facing potential compulsory redundancy as if they are ‘volunteering’ for any lower-graded role that they manage to find in desperate and generally unaided job searches, different lines of business are now routinely making a distinction between ‘suitable alternative roles’ for redeployees (normally ones management have identified with identical pay ranges) and ‘alternative’ roles – to which no PPP applies.
At a stroke that has drastically reduced the potential redeployment options for ‘at risk’ individuals in higher paid roles – the problem being further exacerbated by discrepancies between NewGRID and Workforce 2020 pay scales.
Late last year the potential for jaw-dropping injustices was borne out in a case involving a 35-year-old Technology member from West London who applied for, and secured, what initially looked like a perfect redeployment outcome after his C3-graded role, paying just over £40,000, was declared redundant.
After the trauma of his redundancy consultation, the joyful member naturally assumed that his successful application for an identically graded vacancy that had been advertised by Enterprise in Hatfield meant his problems were over.
All that changed, however, when he was subsequently informed a “mistake” had been made and that Enterprise could not afford the advertised salary – despite the fact it had applied to the previous incumbent!
Instead he was told the role was now being deemed a TM3 grade position, paying an unagreed spot rate of £27,000 – and that, as such, his acceptance of the revised terms would involve him accepting a £13,000 pay cut.
“PPP doesn’t apply in this scenario due to it being a voluntary application to an alternative role during a redundancy consultation,”insisted management – despite CWU protests that the individual’s job search could hardly be characterised as ‘voluntary’ given that the alternative was compulsory redundancy!
Appalled at the member’s treatment, CWU national officer for Technology Sally Bridge immediately escalated the case to director level in that division, pointing out that the individual was effectively being “held over a barrel”, with Enterprise seizing on his looming redundancy as an “opportunity to reduce their costs”.
CWU national officer for Enterprise, Allan Eldred was the next to take up the cudgel – making successive urgent appeals for that division to reconsider its position as the member – by then off sick with stress – had his Technology redundancy date looming.
In the event, after more than a month of untold anguish, shortly before Christmas the member decided he couldn’t stomach working for a company that had treated him so badly, opting to take a compulsory redundancy payout rather than accept a £13,000 pay cut.
Allan concludes: “What BT did to this member is undoubtedly one of the most vicious acts I’ve seen in over 40 years of being a CWU rep. They played with his emotions, putting him under stress with the threat of redundancy, then raised his expectations with the offer of a good job, then telling him that, because of their incompetence, he’d be penalised to the tune of £13,000 a year for possibly the rest of his working life.
“It’s appalling, and all BT workers need to understand that with management decisions like this no-one is safe. Above everything, it highlights the importance of the union’s ‘Count Me In’ campaign and the reasons why we simply cannot allow this sort of management behaviour to continue.”
- ‘Push us at your peril’, BT Group warned: See story about last month’s 97.9% consultative ballot vote on industrial action here