Openreach RPE dispute – step closer to positive outcome


After 15 days of strike action, Openreach repayment planning engineer members are looking forward to a resolution of their grading claim…

A year ago today, around 170 RPE members walked out on strike in opposition to management plans to move their jobs into the professional management structure and devalue the highly-skilled work they do.

They took strike action for 15 days over the following period, determined to achieve fairness and justice and united in their endeavours.

Stung by the members’ action, the company contacted the CWU and asked for negotiations to seek a mutually acceptable resolution to the issue.

CWU Openreach national team chair Fiona Curtis told CWU News that “we were more than willing to enter talks with the business and in these talks, our key aspiration was to ensure that the RPE role was retained as a Team Member grade, fully within this grading structure.

“For us, for our RPE members, this was the crucial point, as it protects their grades, maintains the recognition of their high skill level and, equally importantly, protects these rights for RPEs coming into the role in the future.”

The talks were, she continues, “difficult and, at times complex” – but significant and meaningful progress was made and last month, Davie Bowman the CWU national officer along with the CWU national Openreach team got the company’s agreement to a formal job evaluation process.

“We have now, last week, submitted the job evaluation pack into the BT Group organisational design team and we’re optimistic that this will confirm the fair and reasonable settlement that we’ve been seeking all along.

“Our RPEs operate at an exceptionally high skill level – for the benefit of those outside and inside the business, RPEs plan network routes in situation where it’s necessary to liaise with one or more other civil agencies, these include some of the UK’s large and high-profile transport and infrastructure projects,” Fiona explained.

“So it was extremely important that this role and the recognition it merits were full defended and protected – and, although it’s taken some time, and will still take more time to complete, we are optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction towards a fair outcome.

“It’s also important to highlight the sheer grit and determination of our RPE members in standing up, standing together and fighting hard to achieve justice.”