CWU fury as ‘morally bankrupt’ BT claims its first ever compulsory redundancy scalp

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Already strained industrial relations between the CWU and BT have hit a new low following the company’s Enterprise division’s decision to press ahead with the first ever compulsory redundancy of a team member grade employee.

Despite repeated appeals by the union for management  to step back from the brink on the basis of firm evidence amassed by the CWU that the forced exit of the Brighton-based homeworker was as unnecessary as it was cruel, the union’s final appeals for a stay of execution were rejected on Sunday having been escalated to the very top. 

 The significance of the move – which ends decades of an enlightened approach to surplus situations under which BT’s total workforce has been cut by more than 100,000 since privatisation without the need for a single compulsory redundancy – cannot  be overstated.

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr explains: “It’s become increasingly apparent over the past few months that this morally bankrupt betrayal of a loyal and long-serving female employee has been ideologically driven by a management that is determined to go down the compulsory redundancy route as a matter of principle – despite the fact it was completely avoidable.

“Since last October, when the union was advised that 367 people were potentially at risk of redundancy, we’ve tried to work with management to secure alternative employment and have succeeded in many cases. In almost all cases where alternative roles have been ‘found’, they have been found at the union’s volition rather than management’s.

“In some areas, some managers have consistently erected barriers to the redeployment of people at risk of redundancy. There was an easy and obvious resolution to the case that reached its sad conclusion on Sunday  but management chose not to deploy it. We cannot detail the circumstances because the case is currently being considered by lawyers.

“It has become quite clear that some managers are more intent on getting a redundancy notch on their belt than genuinely looking for alternative roles. BT’s announcement on Friday that they are giving the legally required one year’s notice to withdraw from the redundancy agreement, is further evidence of the type of people now managing this company.”

National officer with responsibility for BT Enterprise, Allan Eldred – who personally spearheaded no fewer than four appeals for a rethink of Sunday’s compulsory redundancy in the South East Central branch member’s final hours of service – agrees.

“In the course of the last eight months the union has seen almost all of its counter-proposals to redundancy rejected,” he stresses. “It has seen those of individual members and groups of members also rejected.  It has seen the authority levels to approve vacancies switched to the most senior level in the company, which has effectively closed the redeployment process down.

“Management, nobody else, is preventing our members at risk of redundancy finding work. Work that we know is there because some managers tell us it is.

Allan concludes: “The membership of this union in Enterprise and right across the company are under attack on pay, grading and jobs.

“The time for talking is far from over but the time to prepare for when the talking stops is now.”