BT VVS fast tracks the end of PBA contracts

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Scores of agency workers in BT Ventures Voice Services are in the process of being switched from PBA (Pay Between Assignment) to AWR (Agency Worker Regulations) contracts in the latest good news to flow from the recent BT Transformation Agreement.

In total around 100 Manpower employees conducting operator, 999, directory enquiries and Text Relay work in BT call centres are in line to receive significant hourly pay rises from December 2 because they will then qualify for pay equal to that of their directly employed counterparts.

Coming in the wake of an on-going programme of agency conversions – which saw 40 former Manpower employees in VVS offered BT contracts in July, with a further 20 to follow this month (October) – the latest development stems directly from the success of the CWU’s Close the Gap campaign against the travesty of unequal pay for identical work.

After years of hard political and industrial campaigning by the union against agency contracts that sidestep the equal treatment aims of the EU’s Temporary Agency Workers Directive by way of a legal loophole in the UK’s Agency Worker Regulations, in August this year BT
Group finally agreed to end the use of PBA contracts by the end of the financial year.

VVS’s decision to set the process rolling in advance of that deadline means that, in this particular division of BT Group, PBA contracts – which the CWU has always argued are exploitative – will cease to exist in their entirety on December 2.

For all but two of the longest serving PBA contract agency employees in the division that will mean hourly pay rates increasing from £8.50 to £9.74 an hour – the same as that received by counterparts on the Workforce 2020 contract spot rate.

The two longer-serving employees, both of whom started before the introduction of Workforce 2020 contracts, will see their hourly pay rate rise from £8.50 to £11.58 on account of the fact that their pay comparator is that of directly employed staff on the NewGRID salary maximum.

Assistant secretary Sally Bridge, who has led the union’s fight against agency exploitation ion BT call centres for well over a decade, said: “The developments now taking place in VVS are a vindication of many years of CWU campaigning.

“Although the new AWR agency contracts being issued to Manpower employees in VVS don’t change matters with regards to job security in the same way as the BT contracts currently being issued across BT Consumer, they still put individuals in a far better position with regards to pay levels.

“Once VVS is paying its agency workers the full rate for the job, the hope must be that that company decides it might just as well offer these individuals permanent BT contracts.”

National officer for VVS, Brendan O’Brien, agrees, concluding: “CWU will continue to press the business for agency conversions wherever they are appropriate.”