New kick in the teeth for members as BT confirms its intention to slash team member redundancy terms

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Friday 27th November 2020 

The CWU has hit back at BT’s confirmation that it will be slashing redundancy terms that will apply across much of the company from June 1 next year.

That announcement – emailed to staff yesterday along with a glossy e-booklet titled ‘Review of redundancy and paid leave terms outcome’ that is positively packed with images of beaming employees – vindicates repeated CWU warning to members that the package negotiated just two years ago as part of the 2018 Pensions Agreement is under dire threat.

Parallel universe: the new severance terms are dreadful news for many

Sadly the CWU’s worst fears have now been realised, with the company confirming – after a consultation that the union believes was always a foregone conclusion – that it intends to effectively halve maximum redundancy entitlements for longer-serving employees from two years’ to one year’s money.

That move is highly significant at a time when – despite vehement opposition from the CWU – the company has broken with a decades old voluntary approach to dealing with staff surplus situations and is now in the process of making previously unheard of compulsory redundancies amongst team member grades in no fewer than four lines of business.

The bombshell over future severance terms comes as the CWU is mid-way through a consultative ballot on industrial action as part of its ‘Count Me In’ fightback against a belligerent new management approach that is sweeping across the business bringing multiple  threats to job security and terms & conditions in its wake.

Misleadingly, yesterday’s company email to staff referred to the fact that the proposed severance terms had been discussed with the CWU and Prospect without mentioning that both unions are vehemently opposed to the move.

“Let me be absolutely clear to members who may been left confused by this somewhat opaque wording,” stresses CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr.

“The CWU has only been nominally consulted, and BT is imposing the new severance terms knowing we have rejected them.

“In the company’s so  called staff ‘consultation’ no fewer than 73% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the proposed terms – yet BT is riding roughshod over those concerns and is demonstrably ignoring feedback from its own employees.”

One particularly pernicious element of BT new severance terms is that, after June 1 next year, anyone put ‘at risk’ of redundancy will effectively be forced into accepting misleadingly named ‘voluntary redundancy terms’ as compulsory redundancy terms will no longer be enhanced, but will be the bare statutory minimum.

                                   Andy Kerr

“By doing this BT will have the ability to state publicly that it is not making anyone compulsorily redundant,” Andy explains. “Any true notion of ‘voluntarism’ will have been trounced because anyone not accepting VR without a murmur will be hugely financially penalised.”

Pointing out that  yesterday’s announcement is yet another reason why CWU members in BT need to vote ‘yes’ en-masse in the ongoing consultative ballot on industrial action, Andy concludes: “This is another kick in the teeth for our members as BT doggedly pursues its organisational change.

“That’s why it’s crucial we achieve an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote in the consultative ballot in to send an unmistakable message to management that they ignore at their peril.”