‘Our Hours’ victory complete as Openreach switches off PTT

Telecoms & Financial Services, Openreach

Today (Thursday) is the first day that thousands of Openreach engineers won’t be contractually obliged to give up to 60 minutes of their time at each end of the working day for free – thanks to the successful conclusion of a long and hard fight for fairness by the CWU.

Exactly three years after the launch, in January 2019, of the union’s high profile ‘Our Hours’ campaign against the blatantly unequal treatment of an ever growing percentage of the field engineering workforce, management have this morning switched off the despised ‘Personal Travel Time’ (PTT)  system in its entirety.

With just over half of the entire field engineering workforce benefitting from the change – namely all those employed since September 2012, when the company reneged on an almost identical previous agreement with the union – the watershed moment is in the process of being marked by a countrywide celebration of a momentous CWU achievement that positively impacts around 14,000 individuals.

This morning branches with members in Openreach across the UK are kicking off a day of events – not just to mark the PTT switch-off but also to highlight what can be achieved when aggrieved workers put on a united show of defiance.

After all, underpinning management’s180 degree about-turn on PTT has been a groundswell of grass-roots anger that has seen the issue become a set-piece point of discussion in team meetings, one-to-ones and feedback sessions with management. Forcefully channelled to higher level management by the union, the dismay of those impacted has been steadily building for nearly a decade and was clearly not going to go away.

Davie Bowman

“The union’s Openreach National Team would like to thank everyone involved for their fantastic response in what has been long and difficult campaign,” stresses CWU national officer for Openreach, Davie Bowman.

“Members, in particular, have continued to put pressure on both the company and the CWU at all levels for this to be resolved, and that pressure has paid off – showing what can be achieved when we act as one.

“The upshot is that, from today, ‘their hours’ will become ‘your hours’ in a very fitting conclusion to the ‘Our Hours’ campaign!

“There’s an important message there, I think, about the importance of solidarity as we face the inevitable challenges that the months and years ahead will bring.”

  • Listen to Davie explaining the significance of the union’s victory in securing the end of the PTT commitment in this CWU podcast 


Celebrating success…

This morning’s activities included a plethora of early morning yard visits by the South East Central, Midland Counties and Lancs & Cumbria branches – with similar engagement with members and associated recruitment of non-members planned across London, the North East, North West and Scotland.

But the biggest engagement exercise of all is being orchestrated across Wales & the Marches, with the region’s three T&FS  branches (South Wales, Mid Wales, the Marches & North Staffs and North Wales & Chester) embarking on an extravaganza of activity which has echoes of the audacious ‘time bandit’ tour of Wales and the Marches they conducted in 2019 to highlight the PTT  ‘Our Hours robbery’.

Beginning in Rhyl yesterday, the self-styled  ‘victory tour’ has this morning seen the CWU descend on Openreach workplaces in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea,  Bangor, Hereford, Shrewsbury and Oswestry – the yard visits being amplified by a whirlwind triumphal lap of the region in a specially liveried ‘Our Hours’ campaign van!

Starting from Cardiff at 6am this morning, the travelling roadshow will hit Hereford at 7.30am, Shrewsbury midday and Oswestry this afternoon – finishing with grand finale dawn raid’ on Chester’s main Openreach yard tomorrow (Friday).

“It’s really important that we celebrate our success,” explains event coordinator Graham Colk. “Anyone simply looking at what Openreach has put out could think that the company has done this wholly on its own accord, without any CWU involvement, and that simply isn’t the case!”

Openreach National Team chair Fiona Curtis agrees: “It might have taken us a long time to get to this point – but we’ve got there by sticking together, remaining resolute and not giving up, and it’s vital we never forget that,” she insists,

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr, whose direct intervention on the PTT issue in top level talks with the company –  aimed at achieving a negotiated settlement of the union’s ‘Count Me In’ campaign of resistance against BT-wide attacks on job security and terms and conditions – proved decisive in the breakthrough that has come to fruition today,concludes: “While the PTT issue had never been directly part of the ‘Count Me In’ campaign, it was symptomatic of a company approach to its workforce that urgently needs to be re-set.

“The switch-off of PTT  represents a significant win for the CWU, and I hope it proves to be the precursor of more to follow.”

  • Joy at the coalface: Members explain what the scrapping of the despised PTT commitment means to them: