Compulsory redundancy threat emerges in yet another part of BT Group

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Monday 18th January 2021

Grim news that more than half of the CWU represented grade employees in BT’s Corporate Units HR ‘Colleague Experience and Delivery Teams’ will be placed ‘at risk’ in BT Group’s first redundancy announcement of 2021 has once again highlighted the importance of the union’s ‘Count Me In’ fightback.

Last Thursday staff were left reeling by the announcement that no fewer than 57 of the 111 existing team members will be impacted by a major reorganisation that will see functions carried out in different locations across the country centralised into Bristol and Birmingham.

Amid urgent CWU demands for full details of the sites that Corporate Units intends quitting, particular concerns are currently centred on the fate of 31 team members working in the HR Services unit which is currently based in South Shields in the North East.

Their work is presently earmarked to migrate 300 miles south westwards to Bristol – clearly well beyond  any definition of reasonable travelling distance.

While relocation has not been ruled out as an option,  management has tacitly  conceded  this is unlikely to be taken up by any of the impacted exclusively NewGRID contract staff –  already confirming that new recruitment in Bristol will be on lower Workforce 2020 terms and conditions.

Other functions impacted by the proposed redundancies in Corporate Units HR include People Systems & Data, Learning & Apprenticeships, Talent Acquisition, Reporting and Analytics, Colleagues Experience and HR Transformation.

Although not specifically presented to the union as stemming from BT Group’s so-called ‘Better Workplace’ site rationalisation programme,  the  current proposals can clearly not be  divorced from the overall site strategy. As such they are once again setting alarm bells ringing as to the likely scale of staff displacement associated with BT’s overarching  ‘Better Workplace’ ambitions to close hundreds of sites across the country over the next four years, concentrating the vast majority of its operations into just 30 key locations nationwide.

The timescales for the redundancy process just getting underway in Corporate Units HR are far more immediate, however. Individual Consultation (IC) 1 meetings are scheduled to commence on January 25, with IC2 meetings beginning on February 1, IC3s in early March and those ultimately earmarked for redundancy out the door by March 31.

Urging affected members to arrange for CWU representation at those meetings with their  local branch offices without delay, assistant secretary Dave Jukes stresses that the union is vigorously challenging business case for the redundancies in their entirety.

“A series of counter proposals have been put to the company which could prevent the redundancies taking place,” he insists.

“These include allowing people to work from home, if they cannot travel to the new location, and agile working which would allow team members to work in part from home and in part in a BT building.

Dave Jukes

“At present, however, the company is saying it wants entire and bigger teams in single  buildings, regardless of the consequences for individuals – identifying a number of team members who are already working remotely which they say is ‘not part of the plan’.  That aggressive and dogmatic approach is needlessly leaving members who cannot travel to the new location at risk of redundancy.”

On Friday branches were briefed on the latest redundancy announcement in BT and arrangements are now in place for a special online members’ meeting at 6pm this Thursday (January 21) at which any further information the union has been able to obtain will be shared with those directly impacted.

Full log-on details will be circulated to the relevant membership shortly, but in the meantime anyone who is unsure whether the union holds their current home email address should contact their branch without delay.

  • In addition to the redundancy consultation that is now underway, discussions are also set to commence over a planned TUPE transfer of 64 team members in the Corporate Units HR Apprenticeship Team into Openreach. At present all the indications are that this will largely be a ‘lift and shift’, with limited impact on those affected. Management have also announced some  insourcing of previously offshored work from Budapest, but regrettably it is not believed these repatriated roles will mitigate the potential for redundancies.