More redundancies announced in Technology as BT Group-wide consultative ballot on industrial action enters its final hours

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Wednesday 9th December 2020

Another 28 team member grade employees have been placed at risk of compulsory redundancy in BT Technology – the grim pre-Christmas news once again highlighting the importance of a concerted CWU fightback against multiple management attacks on job security and Ts&Cs that are erupting across BT Group.

The latest CWU members to have had  long cherished assumptions over the stability of their employment shattered  include 19 Dynamic Infrastructure (DI)  Plan & Build employees who learned last Thursday that they’d been placed ‘at risk’ as part of an automation/ transformation programme designed to save BT £1.2 million a year.

That bombshell came less than a week after seven D1 and  two C3 graded IT employees were told their roles will be ‘ceased’ by the end of March  as a result of a cost-cutting  decision to outsource Contact  Centre Evolution Programme Application Support Group (ASG) work to 3rd party supplier, Cognizant, who are known to offshore work to India.

At the time of both announcements  the CWU had been hoping that talks to  extend opportunities for voluntarism in Technology’s wider Phase 2 ‘Griffin’ redundancy programme  would secure a breakthrough that could  have significantly mitigated not just the latest DI and ASG redundancies, but also the  100 team member job losses announced in October.

But while the conclusion of those talks this Monday has secured some limited additional opportunities for voluntarism  in certain tightly defined situations (see Telecoms Bulletin 245/2020 and relevant attachment issued this morning), it has sadly not proved the game-changer that the union’s Technology national negotiating team had hoped.

                                        Sally Bridge

CWU national officer for Technology, Sally Bridge, explains: “While it’s fair to say that the limited agreement we’ve reached – which finally allows many of those caught up in the Phase 2 redundancies to  register ‘expressions of interest’ – is very welcome, it’s categorically not the breakthrough we’d sought to achieve.

“Despite strenuous CWU efforts, management has refused to extend this opportunity to those in roles which are deemed  to be ‘ceased’  – and that itself means that all of those in the ASG and five of those put ‘at risk’ in DI last Thursday have nowhere to go unless they manage to identify and successfully apply for alternative roles.

“Other CWU counter-proposals seeking VR job swaps across different redundancy pools, or with individuals who are not in scope at all, have also been knocked back by the company – as have our efforts to introduce ‘expressions of interest’ for those impacted by Phase 1 compulsory redundancies which have yet to become effective

“Taken collectively, the National Team believes that such measures could have taken much of the pain out of the current distressing compulsory redundancy situation. We feel this is a missed opportunity – driven, I’m afraid, by what the CWU can only view as needless dogmatism by management in many areas.”

Despite the union’s intense disappointment, however, Sally stresses that the new opportunities for individuals within redundancy pools to have  their ‘expressions of interest’ recorded, and taken into consideration, will prove a saviour for some.

She also points out that the union’s success in persuading Technology  to reduce the number of redundancy pools in DI Plan & Build  will provide welcome additional opportunities for voluntary resolutions for the 12  ‘at risk’ individuals whose roles have not been ‘ceased’.

Sally concludes: “We’re confident that this will save some people’s jobs – and in desperate times any good news is welcome. It’s categorically not enough for us to get the bunting out, however!  Essentially we’ve secured a small but important improvement in one little cog in a management machine for dealing with surplus situations which is flawed on multiple levels.

“Welcome though ‘expressions of interest’ are, in this very limited guise they won’t  fundamentally change the overall picture – and that’s why it’s so important that all members across BT Group demonstrate their total solidarity in support of the Count Me In campaign.”

  • Members are reminded that the consultative ballot on industrial action will close at 12 noon tomorrow (Thursday December 10) – with the result being announced in a special Facebook Live session at 1pm that day.