OPENREACH – WORKING TOGETHER SITE RATIONALISATION

No. 1/2015                                                                                            27 February 201

OPENREACH – WORKING TOGETHER SITE RATIONALISATION

Dear Colleague,

The CWU National Team (NT) is taking this opportunity to update you on the current position with regard to the above programme.

All Branches with Openreach members met in London last week in order to discuss the programme and the CWU's response to it. Additionally, Branches attended an event in BT Centre where the company once again set out its vision and beliefs and those present had the opportunity to question senior managers on the programme.

The discussions at both the above events confirmed the CWU NT and Branches opposition to the current plan and our commitment to delivering the maximum number of highly skilled and graded roles in the maximum number of locations as possible. Those discussions also confirmed the CWU's commitment to utilise all means available to us to deliver that policy and the actions Branches should take now in pursuit of that goal should it prove necessary.

Neither the NT nor Branches (attending the above event) have been given any business case or rationale which would support the current plan to create 23 centres of excellence and abandon locations the length and breadth of the country. Our collective analysis of the plan as it currently stands leads us to conclude that the level of stranded resource created would lead to a major long term impact on the business and customer service. This is not something we can stand by and allow to happen if we are serious about protecting all our members' long term job security, promotion opportunities and the creation of future employment opportunities in Openreach.

It is important for the NT to be clear about the reasons why we cannot support the current plan. In doing so it is worth setting out the detail of the plan as it stands.

Stranded Resource

Openreach will create 23 centres of excellence in which all desk based (using their definition) functions will be based. Those who are in all the other sites and who cannot travel to one of the new sites will continue to carry out their current role until some point in the future. At that point those individuals will be 'stranded resource' as Openreach refuse to give any assurances that work will be found for them in a desk based role at their current location and certainly no assurances that any roles found will be commensurate with their current grade.

Whilst we recognise that Openreach have now accepted that Ashton has a 'long term future' following pressure from the CWU, its members and external bodies, the business will not move to re-designate its status to a centre of excellence. We would have to ask 'why?' and also, given the potential levels of stranded resource elsewhere, why Openreach will not reconsider its plan for sites the length and breadth of the country. The business accepts that a direct result of moving to 23 sites will mean that tens of hundreds will become stranded but will not engage with the CWU regarding the future of those sites or our members who occupy them.

Homeworkers

For those of you who are homeworkers the future is just as uncertain, but the NT want to assure you that the issues associated with a potential move for you are being dealt with on an equal priority with the others. The reasons people work from home (something BT encourages and sells products to its customers to achieve) are varied but for many it has provided the avenue for a solution to continue in a role with Openreach. The NT has been clear with the business that regardless of their site rationalisation plans, Homeworking is an existing and continued BT Group policy and individuals must have their issues addressed in line with all of those. Our Branches will directly support all those involved in this programme.

Promotion Wastelands

The long term effect of that action will also be to create promotion wastelands, where anyone who wants to develop their career into a desk based role will have to either travel unrealistic distances on a daily basis at their own expense or uproot their family and move home. This may not be an issue for the highly paid senior managers who are architects of this plan, but it will be a major obstacle to the vast majority of team members.

Centres of Excellence Functions

For those who are currently in a centre of excellence or will be moved to one there are no assurances or guarantees about future roles or grading. In fact it is becoming clear that in those places where the plan is more defined the future is months of training for a new role, possibly at a lower grade and the prospect of pay and pension protection for many. Hundreds of years of experience and dedicated service lost in the pursuit of a 'vision'.

45 Minutes Travel Time

It is important to reiterate the rules associated with travel time in relation to the Working Together programme. The CWU have ensured that the provisions of NewGRID apply; therefore if the additional journey time is in excess of 45 minutes using public transport then the proposed move does not meet the test of reasonableness. In essence, the calculation is based on public transport from your home address to the new workplace minus the time it currently takes you. If that time is less than 45 minutes then it can be deemed as reasonable unless there are any other issues such as caring, childcare, health, financial, etc. that would make the change impossible. If however, using public transport, it is more than 45 minutes you will be staying where you are but what work you will be expected to carry out will be uncertain in the future.

Additional Travel Costs (ATCs)

The financial implications of the proposed moves for many of you will become a real burden and when the two year safety net provided by ATCs is taken away, members will then have to foot the bill for the privilege of travelling to a centre of excellence. The NT has made clear to the company that with no improved provision and expecting members to, in effect, take a pay cut is not something we can support. We continue to press Openreach to look again at the provisions and recognise the financial burden on our members of these proposals. To date, Openreach have been unwilling to formally enter discussions on this issue.

Efficiency Assumptions

Given the complete lack of business case or rationale for the proposals, the NT has pressed Openreach to outline the planned efficiency savings (people) related to this plan. We have also asked for the specific details of how the capacity will be created to release people to be retrained and at the same time continue to deliver service to the customer. We have sought assurances that Openreach will not move work offshore or to a 3rd party in order to meet the proposed site rationalisation programme. To date, Openreach have declined to reveal the planned efficiency savings or give a commitment with regard to the use of offshore or 3rd party resource.

Summary

The National Team hope that the contents of this letter set out clearly what the CWU is trying to achieve in relation to safeguarding the interests of all the members we represent who are affected by this programme either now or in the future.

At this point in time Openreach have not engaged the CWU National Team in any meaningful way on the many issues facing our members as a result of the launch of this programme. We have met the company on numerous occasions and raised the very serious issues this site rationalisation programme has for our members, the business and its customers. To date, that has not resulted in any real movement away from the 'vision and belief'.

Openreach currently has a national footprint with highly skilled, dedicated, long serving employees carrying out every function everywhere in the field and desk based roles. Going forward, if this site rationalisation plan is not fundamentally altered then we will move from everything everywhere to nothing anywhere. The CWU, its Branches and members are not willing to allow that to happen.

In the coming weeks you will be invited to 1:1s with your manager to discuss how the plan affects you whether you are in a centre of excellence or in one of the potentially closing sites. The clear advice from the CWU is that members should seek clarity at the 1:1, document any issues associated with the proposed move and discuss the outcome of the meeting with your local CWU Branch as necessary.

Openreach have given no guarantee to those not moving as to what will happen to them once their work is transferred to a centre of excellence. Ask for that clarity at your 1:1.

Openreach have given no guarantees to those in, or moving into, a centre of excellence about their future role or grading. Ask for that clarity at your 1:1.

The CWU National Team and Branches are determined to ensure that we deliver the maximum number of highly skilled and graded roles in the maximum number of locations as possible and will pursue the actions that it may take to achieve that.

Together we can achieve that goal.

Yours sincerely,

DAVIE BOWMAN