Busy week ahead for #ENDGAME campaign tour against BTFS outsourcing

Telecoms & Financial Services

The fight against BT’s plans to outsource its Facilities Services division continues with a vengeance this week, with regional demonstrations scheduled to take place every day between now and Friday.

Following last Wednesday’s launch of the #ENDGAME campaign in central London with a high profile protest outside BT Tower – and a follow-up demo in Doncaster the very next day – today (Monday) it’s the turn of Dial House in Salford to feel the heat of the CWU’s fury at the risks being presented to the  job security and Ts&Cs of 1,700 employees in CWU represented grades.

Other #ENDGAME activities scheduled this week – all of which will present the same message to BT that it needs to ‘Stop Playing Games’ with the livelihoods of loyal employees – include:

  • A demonstration outside BT Sport in London tomorrow (Tuesday November 27) – followed up that evening by a Facebook Live session between 6.30pm to 7.30pm at www.facebook.com/ThecommunicationsUnion/
  • A protest Cardinal Telephone Exchange in Leicester on Wednesday (November 28)
  • A further protest outside BT’s London Road site in Sevenoaks on Thursday (November 29)
  • A demonstration outside BT’s prominent Riverside Tower side in Belfast on November 30

“If ever BT doubted the CWU’s resolve to fight the outsourcing of its Facilities Services division to CBRE and ISS it’s receiving a very rude awakening now…and deservedly so,” said assistant secretary Sally Bridge.

The extent to which the announcement has struck fear and foreboding into not just those directly affected, but also the wider BT workforce, came through loud and clear at last week’s Doncaster protest.

BTFS Fabric Technician Adam Lingard, who is himself in scope to be transferred to CBRE, spoke of the “shock and dismay” of both himself and colleagues who are united in the view that they “don’t want to be outsourced again” having had previous experience of working for Monteray.

“We enjoy being part of the BT family,” he stressed, lamenting the fact that, apart from fundamentally changing the relationship between facilities services people and the BT colleagues whose environment they service, the fact that two companies are involved in the proposed TUPE means that close knit teams will be split.

“It’s quite moving how the CWU has moved so quickly to try to back us up – but I think the CWU has to fight this not just for us but for everyone else as well, because otherwise this could be just the start,” Adam continued.

“I was at the BT Fleet garage in Parkway when the Fleet members heard, via Sky News, the rumour about Fleet being sold off…and then our announcement (about Facilities Services)  came the following Monday.

Fellow BTFS engineer Trevor Davidson spoke of the irony that the outsourcing announcement had virtually coincided with an invitation to a Christmas meal which could now be the last before different team members head off to separate companies.

“Id like us to stay as a team,” he stressed. “When we came over from Monteray we were just proud to be part of BT…and now we’ve been shafted.”

Trevor insisted, however, that, aged 58, his “main worry for the future is for the younger ones”.

BTFS grounds maintenance worker Steve Thompson added: “I just want BT to explain why they’re doing this. I mean, you hear about all the profits they’re supposedly making and then they’re cutting this, that and the other. Why now, when it’s only just six years since they brought us back in-house?”

Steve stressed that he had limited faith in TUPE protections, having previously had experience of a TUPE transfer to “what ended up being a fly-by-night company”  – but that he still felt in-scope employees deserved  far greater explanation than management has currently given them.

“The general reaction is shock and a bit of anger to be honest,” he said. “We don’t know where we stand  – they haven’t explained anything apart from one company is now going to be two companies, one of which I’ve never heard of.

“Job security is the main worry for me, obviously, and then there’s terms and conditions. I’ve got a pension with BT, and also life insurance. Do they carry on? We’ve heard nothing.

“BT’s a  FTSE 100 company, so why are they treating people like this? I mean, people are just starting to look forward to Christmas and now they are worrying about their job security and the future.”

Housekeeper Barrie Pepper agreed: “It seems a bit bad them telling us this just before Christmas. I’m very worried about what is going to happen about job security and all that,” he said.

Recalling how delighted he’d been to transfer into BT from Monteray he added: “We were on the minimum wage when we started, but when we came into BT it went up to the Living Wage – but we’re worried that with this new  company we’ll probably be back on the minimum wage.”

Deep anxiety stemming from a lack of clarity on multiple fronts was echoed by fellow housekeeper Vicky Craven, who added: “I’m just terrified about them cutting hours, because if they did I couldn’t fund coming all the way here from Barnsley.

“I thought I was secure and I‘m just very shocked. You work hard all year and then you are hit with this just before Christmas, and what do you do? It’s a family time and an enjoyable time when everyone is supposed to be happy – and we’re all just shocked and worried now.”

CWU national officer Sally Bridge, who spoke at length to those who braved the cold to discuss their concerns with the union, admitted that hearing members’ fears first hand had been a profoundly moving experience.

“Frankly it was heartrending to hear just how upset, angry and anxious these people are for the future, and just how devastating they fear BT’s callous outsourcing decision could be for them personally,” Sally explained.

“When you hear about how loyal and long-serving employees are panicking about how they can afford Christmas, on account of their worries about what the New Year holds in store, it places into stark relief the impact that Boardroom decisions can have on real people’s lives.

“The most common question they were asking was ‘why is BT doing this?’ – and, if there was any justice at all, those behind this reckless outsourcing decision should be fielding these questions direct rather than hiding away in the comfort of their ivory towers.”

  • Don’t miss the Facebook Live session that will take place from 6.30pm to 7.30pm tomorrow (Tuesday) at www.facebook.com/ThecommunicationsUnion/at which Andy Kerr, national officer for BTFS, Sally Bridge and T&FS Executive member Tracey Fussey will be explaining the aims of the #ENDGAME campaign and answering your questions.