Openreach announced to the CWU on 28th November that they were bringing new staff into pole testing, but not through the normal route of upgrading engineers with skills and experience. Instead they are bringing in new staff at the lowest grade and giving them 12 weeks training only. This astonishing attitude to such a safety critical job is being strongly opposed by CWU. There seems to have been no work on the safety and legal issues involved.
A special conference of the CWU over weekend 3rd/4th Nov decided on union organisation for the future. Conference voted to keep branch income steady and to keep CWU conference an annual event. A decision on closing the education centre at Alvescot was delayed for a financial report. More non industrial seats will be created on the National Executive.
Alongside the management problems of the last re-organisation, BT Fleet is struggling to hold on to work. Speculation about a sell off is everywhere given the BT management attitude to some parts of the organisation.
Sky Retail – the part of the firm that has stalls in shopping centres – has made huge changes to pay and bonuses – and removed all its store manager posts at a stroke. Those affected had pay cut, were refused redundancy, and not even allowed a formal grievance. Employment Tribunal cases have been lodged. Many staff believe this is preparation for closing down Sky Retail.
In a rerun of activities early in the millennium, BT is looking to cut its way to financial success. Following the chopping of staff pensions, next is the attack on ‘non core’ assets. Last time O2 was sold and almost everything else threatened. First this time around is BT Facilities – only brought ‘in house’ a few years ago. Management plan to sell it to CBRE and ISIS. Rumour is rife as to what is next - anything could be classified ‘non core’.