Shameless Technology plumbs the depths again with new offshoring outrage

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Fresh from Monday’s eleventh hour scuppering an innovative CWU ‘job swap’ proposal that had the potential to prevent wholesale compulsory redundancies in BT Technology (see story here), the division’s management yesterday (Thursday) created new shockwaves by announcing yet more job losses stemming directly from plans export a different work stream work to India.

Currently 12 team member grade employees and one manager handle USER Access orders and mange Access changes to BT/EE systems and SASM from  sites in Bristol, Wolverhampton and Nottingham – but all have just been informed that their roles will cease on December 31 on account of a cost-cutting decision to move their work to Bangalore.

For some years Technology’s UK-based User Access Management Team (UAMT) has worked alongside a much larger sister-team in India following an earlier offshoring initiative – but now Technology bosses have decided to shift the rump of the work left in the UK overseas to realise a cost saving of just £620,000

In a jaw-droppingly brazen display of cold and calculating managerial frankness, in a pre-consultation meeting the CWU’s Technology National Team was told that there was no point in the union attempting to challenge the rationale of the decision, because the D1 and C3 graded work – commanding salaries in the region of £40,000 in the UK – could be conducted for pay levels of just £5,000 in Bangalore.

Equally chillingly, in another ignominious ‘first’ for BT – which claimed its number one compulsory redundancy (CR) scalp of a team member grade employee in Enterprise on May 31, following that up with dozens more forced exists in the same division on August 31 – the UAMT job loss announcement represents the very first occasion the CWU is aware of where the company has ever moved work offshore that has then resulted in a redundancy situation.

With just one new role being created – for which only four of the 12 team member grade employees impacted can even apply on the basis that they are already ‘aligned’ to that workstream, the rest of the group may have no option whatsoever but to accept misleadingly termed ‘voluntary redundancy’ terms just after Christmas – unless they successfully apply for an alternative role elsewhere in the company completely off their own back.

Assistant secretary Sally Bridge admits that even after the horrors of the ‘phase one’ redundancy exercise  in Technology –  under which around 190 are in scope imminent CR  after management pulled the rug at the last moment from a virtually agreed job-saving initiative based on voluntarism – she  is dumbfounded at the ruthlessness with which management are pursuing the UAMT redundancies.

“When we asked if these latest job losses, which came from completely out the blue, represented the start of a ‘Phase 2’ jobs cull in Technology – which we already know is imminent even though we have no idea of what it will entail – we were astonished to be told that they aren’t, and that these redundancies are simply ’business as usual’!

                                      Sally Bridge

“It’s hard to even start to speculate as to what else might constitute ‘business as usual’ in management’s current mindset – but how low can they can go?  These job losses don’t just contradict the spirit of Annexe 2 of the 2018 Pensions Agreement, but also the actual words of the agreement, which specifically states that consideration should be given to the onshoring of work to mitigate against redundancy situations in the UK.  In this  situation the proposed redundancies stem directly from a new piece of offshoring!

“The timing of this announcement is all the more incredible given the fraught CR situation we are already in within Technology and the wider picture of mass redundancies across the wider UK economy that has been catastrophically damaged by Covid-19.

“For Technology to have chosen this moment in time to needlessly transfer precious UK jobs to India is not just the nastiest form of cost-cutting- for what in the scheme of things is a  tiny saving for BT – but displays a breathtaking lack of corporate social responsibility to UK Plc.”

  • Earlier this week  the a growing reliance on offshore labour by different parts of BT Group at a time when the company is making redundancies in the UK drew a stinging rebuke by deputy general secretary Andy Kerr.

Speaking in a Facebook Live broadcast targeted at the union’s entire BT membership on Tuesday evening, Andy specifically referenced the fact that Openreach’s Fibre Network Delivery division currently has a directly employed headcount of around 2,000 in India.

Already conducting around two thirds of the desk-based work associated with the rollout of the UK’s fibre network, that  ratio looks likely to rise still further amid a full frontal assault by Openreach on desk-based roles in the UK centred on that division’s site rationalisation programme.

“How can that be?” asked Andy – pointing out that the insult to UK Plc is only exacerbated by the fact that the company is being paid by billions the Government for precisely that high speed broadband rollout at a time of soaring UK unemployment.

“The UK fibre network should be planned and built by UK workers and I make no bones about saying that,” he insisted. “You wouldn’t get the Indian Government paying to outsource work to the UK to build a fibre network in India, so why should we?”

And with yesterday’s announcement by Technology confirming CWU suspicions that other BT Group lines of business are about to embark on a new wave of offshoring, even as the company is laying off workers in the UK, Andy’s words on Tuesday evening have already proved prescient.

“I’m beginning to wonder whether BT stands for British Telecom or Bangalore Telecom,” he grimly observed.

  • A national Count Me In campaign Day of Action will take place on October 1, and members are being urged to participate in whatever way they can to send the clearest possible expression of employee anger to BT’s top brass. (See story here

Watch out for information from your branch about Count Me In activities taking place in your locality on October 1.