Union’s ‘firefighting’ intervention mitigates impact of another BT outsourcing decision 

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

New roles negotiated for workers in BT following its decision to outsource its customer broadband equipment test & refurbishment work to CTDI a company in Fife, have mitigated against potential redundancies upon transfer, but CWU demands earlier notifications in future and a changed company strategy…

Members working at the company’s Northallerton site in North Yorkshire were relieved by news yesterday that CWU national officer Tracey Fussey and her team have achieved an agreement ensuring no compulsory redundancies of workers choosing not to take up the offer of a job with the CTDI company at its site in Glenrothes, Fife, when their work is transferred there.

“Outsourcing is never a good news story of course,” says Tracey, “but in the circumstances, we’re pleased that we were able to secure continuing jobs for all who want to stay working at Northallerton.

“We’ve been in urgent discussions as soon as we received notification from BT Group about the decision, and our aim was to ensure the affected employees were able to stay working for BT Supply Chains at this site, with discussions ongoing over specific job roles and other details.

“It’s good that this has been achieved, but once again, we’re firefighting when what we really want to be doing is keeping work in-house and bringing outsourced work back.”

In the company’s explanation of its decision, the outsourcing followed its own internal strategic review and was prompted by a need to create greater capacity at the Northallerton site for further fibre expansion.

However, the union points out that BT Group did not involve the CWU in this strategic review and that, had it been made aware of the situation at an earlier stage, a better way forward could and should have been pursued.

“We, as a union, need to be involved in these situations at an earlier stage, so we can put forward in-house solutions,” says Tracey.

Tracey Fussey

Pete Sharrocks, secretary of North East Branch, which includes the Northallerton area, told CWU News: “It’s good that the national officer Tracey Fussey and her team have brought pressure to bear on the business ensuring these members of our branch have ongoing employment at this site.

“The union fights hard for members and they’ve done so once again. But it’s the company that lets us down every time with these sudden announcements that we know nothing about.”

“I certainly hope that, as part of the new national agreement that our leadership is currently negotiating with the business, that our union will be engaged with on these kind of strategic issues.”

Mike Robinson, one of the members directly affected by the situation, told CWU News: “It was very disappointing when the company decided to outsource this work, especially as we’d been doing it for over seven years and doing a really good job, and there had been talk of expanding.

“But in the circumstances, I do think the union has done its best and has fought our corner to get the best deal possible out of a very difficult situation.”