CWU victory on BT PBA agency contracts

Telecoms & Financial Services

A major victory has been won in the CWU’s ‘Close the Gap’ campaign with BT finally agreeing to longstanding union demands for an end of what the union has always claimed are exploitative ‘Pay Between Assignment’ (PBA) contracts.

Following detailed talks the company has agreed to the phasing out of PBA contracts by the end of  March 2019.

Despite wave after wave of agency conversions in recent years, which have seen more than 800 Manpower employees offered permanent BT contracts, over 1,000 agency employees continue to conduct predominantly call centre roles in the business.

In BT Consumer a resourcing revolution  is now underway under which agency workers will have the opportunity to secure a permanent BT contract.

In other lines of business, where there are a few remaining PBA contracts, BT will continue to review their resource plans in conjunction with the CWU.

In addition to every single one of BT Consumer’s current Manpower workforce being offered permanent roles across the Consumer Customer Care operation the business expects to hire 600 new people as part of a wider commitment to answer 100 per cent of customer calls in its UK and Ireland call centres by 2020.

Welcoming both the immediate announcement by BT Consumer – and BT Group’s wider commitment to draw a line under an exploitative agency resourcing model that the union has bitterly opposed from the outset – deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: “This is a major shift in BT’s call centre resourcing strategy and vindicates the hard work that has been carried out at every level of the CWU to expose the many injustices that agency workers have faced since their usage became widespread in the early to mid-2000s.

“BT Group’s  decision to end the use of PBA contracts in their entirety is fantastic news. There can be absolutely no doubt that tireless CWU campaigning – to expose way these contracts exploit a cunning legal loophole that exempts their holders from  hard won rights to equal treatment on pay that came about in 2011 on account of EU legislation – has played a significant part in bringing this change about.”

Assistant secretary Sally Bridge, who has led the CWU’s agency campaigning for more than a decade  – spearheading no fewer than four separate campaigns in that period as the precise nature of the injustices faced by agency workers have evolved in an ever changing political and industrial landscape – concludes: “While it’s very welcome that BT is finally doing the right thing by the hard working agency employees on which it has relied for so long, it needs to be remembered that agency injustices, which have become increasingly synonymous with the usage of exploitative PBA contracts, are rife in the wider world of work.

“As such, although our Close the Gap campaign has now achieved its aims within the context of our own membership, there will be no-let up in the CWU’s ongoing and highly successful political campaign for what’s really needed – namely a change in the law that abolishes PBA contracts once and for all.”