CWU warnings over the state of BT’s estate deliver grounds maintenance breakthrough

Sustained pressure from the CWU has delivered the promise of decisive action to improve the condition of outdoor areas on the BT estate.

In recent years increasing numbers of concerns have been raised with regard to the state of soft landscaping and hard-surfaced areas in a growing number of locations. These have regularly featured in debate at CWU Annual Conference – prompting forceful union representations to BT Property & Facilities both before and after the disputed outsourcing of formerly in-house grounds maintenance functions to CBRE.

Examples have been highlighted where routines and attention to grounds maintenance have fallen seriously short, in some cases creating safety hazards for users of those sites.

In a vindication of CWU persistence on the issue, last week the union received confirmation that, following a root and branch review of grounds maintenance activities, the Workplace Alliance Team is now firmly focussed on improving matters.

In addition to enhanced operational activity planning (PPM’s), improvements include:

  • Investing in a structured training plan, to bring grounds maintenance skills up to date
  • An asset review and condition survey of GM equipment with a three-year rollout programme of new equipment starting in the first quarter of 2022
  • The recruitment of a manager specifically charged with improving grounds maintenance management & supervision.


Welcoming the announcement, CWU national officer with responsibility for grounds maintenance functions, Tracey Fussey, said: “BT Property & Facilities has confirmed that spend has been increased in this area by 15% to approx £3.5m per annum and since June circa 3,500 tasks have been completed across the operational estate.

“A further 1,400 tasks are planned to be completed by the end of October.  Other items reported to the Help Desk will also be addressed.

“Separately, the Workplace Alliance Team are close to completing a full review of this element of the service to ensure that it is better placed to avoid a repeat of the same situation.  This exercise is expected to be concluded by the end of November.

“This is good news – not just for our members in CBRE, but extremely good news for our members in BT who are not just personally impacted by poorly maintained outdoor environments on the BT estate, but also by the reaction of members of the public to the neglect of publicly visible areas.

“Examples flagged up to the union include engineers being challenged by concerned residents over the unkempt appearance of exchange buildings where formerly well-tended gardens have sometimes been allowed to become overgrown – but arguably the biggest concern of all has surrounded the health and safety issues that longstanding neglect of hard-surfaced frequently result in, including slip and trip hazards.

Thanking branches and union safety reps for their diligent attention to such issues, Tracey concludes: “Whilst we welcome the revised focus on grounds maintenance we would be pleased if branches could continue to escalate areas of concern that are not resolved.

“Ultimately this revised focus on the state of the BT estate has the potential to be enormously positive for just not our members in BT and CBRE, but also BT’s public image. The proof of the pudding will ultimately be in the eating, however, so the CWU national team will be keeping a close eye on how things pan out.”