Talks on disputed BT Facilities outsourcing at critical stage

BT Facilities Services Ltd

Discussions with BT, CBRE and ISS on the terms of transfer for 1,700 BT Facilities Services employees who are in scope for outsourcing have reached a critical stage – with the CWU digging in for meaningful safeguards in tough talks that are being conducted against a ticking clock.

Following on from last month’s high profile display of the CWU’s anger at the entire pretext of the outsourcing outside BT Centre, formal consultation has, to date, focussed largely on the nuts and bolts of the standard contractual and non-contractual Ts&Cs and benefits that will transfer when the TUPE concludes on April.

For members transferring to ISS that ‘matrix’ has now been agreed – crucially including a binding guarantee that Real Living Wage pay rates will be maintained for the duration of the five-year contract.

“That’s an important win for members who rightly identified the threat to pay rates as one of their biggest concerns from the outset,” stresses assistant secretary Sally Bridge. “Another issue raised by many members was the potential loss of discounted Broadband – and I’m pleased to say the CWU has managed to secure a compensatory monthly payment of £30 net (£40 gross) for all transferees currently in receipt of this BT employee benefit.” (See Letter to Branches No. 070/2019 for full details of the ISS transfer Ts&Cs)

Parallel talks with CBRE are continuing –  but, those discussions are separate from wider-ranging discussions with CBRE, ISS and BT that are just getting underway on the vexed issue of job security and the protection of contractual hours post-transfer.

These relate to changes in operational models that over-ride TUPE protections when recipient companies declare their necessity for ‘economic, technical or organisational reasons’ – something the CWU warned was inevitable from day 1 of the #ENDGAME campaign, despite initial denials by some managers.

The first concrete signal that such changes are indeed on the cards came in a statement that appeared on BTFS Change Space just before Christmas. ISS, however, has now categorically served notice of its intention to introduce a ‘new target-operating model’.

Sally concludes: “These are going to be very difficult discussions that get to the very heart of what the CWU has been campaigning for – namely the critical issues of job security and how any job losses stemming from a new operating model are dealt with, something we vehemently believe necessitates an enhanced VR package.”