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.
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’.
From October 1st Openreach became more independent of BT and staff were transferred under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employees). Terms and conditions all stay the same but the employer is now Openreach, although it is still a subsidiary company of BT.
A CWU ballot for BT London members, showed big support for a union campaign for a rise. London Weighting was last increased by BT in 2012. The company has consistently refused to make any offer of improvement.
The end of June saw the closure of the BT Pension Scheme, with members transferring into the BT Retirement Saving Scheme. However part of the union agreement was the setting up of a ‘hybrid’ scheme, which allows for part of pay to be treated like the old ‘career average’ scheme. The new scheme should start April 2019.