Come clean on site strategy, BT Consumer and EE told, as members unite against a wider ‘race to the bottom’

Telecoms & Financial Services

Multiple concerns over job security, deskilling and attacks on terms & conditions are fast drawing to a head in BT Consumer and EE – and this week it was the turn of members in Consumer to vent their anger at management’s current trajectory.

Just days after a blatant company attempt to deflect well-grounded  workforce worries over which contact centres could be vulnerable under BT’s much vaunted  site rationalisation programme, more than 4,000 participated in  a special CWU Facebook Live event on Tuesday in which members were warned against being lulled into a false sense of security.

Reiterating earlier CWU cautions that management’s announcement of refurbishment plans at some call centres  had “failed to give real clarity on the long-term future of the current 27 sites and our members job security in BT and EE”, acting national officer Stephen Albon continued: “There’s still not a full and clear picture post Spring 2022 and we know you won’t be fooled.”

“We want management to come clean about what the site strategy actually is, because once we know that we can start to work with the company to deal with the fallout. They just won’t do it, however, and we believe the reason for that is they don’t want the uncomfortable truth resulting in customer service being disrupted – so instead they’re intending to bounce closure announcements on us at short notice, just like they did with Aberdeen.”

CWU NEC and Consumer National Team member Dave Tee agreed: “You only need to look at BT’s overall programme in terms of its buildings to see that there WILL be site closures – and, of course, linked to that, redundancy terms have already been heavily attacked  by the company.

“Just because a site is safe today that doesn’t mean it’s safe tomorrow – and that’s why we have to get principles in place as to how individuals are helped in site closure situations so that they still have jobs with the company.”

A return to time-honoured principles of redeployment and voluntarism in job loss situations that are currently being shunned by a new senior management team is one of the key aims of the CWU’s Count Me In campaign of resistance against an unprecedented assault on terms & conditions and job security across the whole of BT Group.

And with last ditch talks currently underway in a final push by the union to establish whether the top bosses have any interest whatsoever in seeking to avert the BT-wide industrial action ballot that the CWU is already committed to set in motion unless meaningful movement  is secured imminently, the message from Consumer members  could not be clearer.

“Of course there are costs to taking action, but they are far less than the long-range losses of comfortable inaction,” observed one member. Many others expressed their dismay at multiple examples of the confrontational  new management approach that is provoking the very real possibility of  the first company-wide industrial action in BT since the 1987 national strike.

As such, the defiant tone of the meeting reflected the steely resolve of last week’s Facebook Live for EE members in which participants vowed not to allow the workplace advances made in that company since its purchase by BT,  and the subsequent winning of union recognition, being put into reverse by a management team that appears hell bent on turning back the clock.

Stephen Albon concludes: “Make no mistake, the company is testing us. They have massive plans for a race to the bottom, and if we don’t show strength now it will be open season for absolutely everything.”