strained industrial relations between the CWU and BT have hit a new low
following the company’s Enterprise division’s decision to press ahead with the
first ever compulsory redundancy of a team member grade employee.
Despite repeated appeals
by the union for management to step back
from the brink on the basis of firm evidence amassed by the CWU that the forced
exit of the Brighton-based homeworker was as unnecessary as it was cruel,
the union’s final appeals for a stay of execution were rejected on Sunday
having been escalated to the very top.
The significance of the
move - which ends decades of an enlightened approach to surplus situations
under which BT’s total workforce has been cut by more than 100,000 since
privatisation without the need for a single compulsory redundancy - cannot be overstated.
Deputy general secretary
Andy Kerr explains: “It’s become increasingly apparent over the past few
months that this morally bankrupt betrayal of a loyal and long-serving
female employee has been ideologically driven by a management that is
determined to go down the compulsory redundancy route as a matter of principle
– despite the fact it was completely avoidable.
“Since last October,
when the union was advised that 367 people were potentially at risk of
redundancy, we’ve tried to work with management to secure alternative
employment and have succeeded in many cases. In almost all cases where
alternative roles have been ‘found’, they have been found at the union’s
volition rather than management’s.
“In some areas, some
managers have consistently erected barriers to the redeployment of people
at risk of redundancy. There was an easy and obvious resolution to the case
that reached its sad conclusion on Sunday but
management chose not to deploy it. We cannot detail the circumstances
because the case is currently being considered by lawyers.
“It has become quite clear
that some managers are more intent on getting a redundancy notch on their
belt than genuinely looking for alternative roles. BT’s announcement on
Friday that they are giving the legally required one year’s notice to
withdraw from the redundancy agreement (see story here), is further evidence of
the type of people now managing this company.”
National officer with
responsibility for BT Enterprise, Allan Eldred – who personally spearheaded
no fewer than four appeals for a rethink of Sunday’s compulsory redundancy
in the South East Central branch member’s final hours of service - agrees.
“In the course of the
last eight months the union has seen almost all of its counter-proposals to
redundancy rejected,” he stresses. “It has seen those of individual members
and groups of members also rejected. It has seen the authority levels
to approve vacancies switched to the most senior level in the company,
which has effectively closed the redeployment process down.
else, is preventing our members at risk of redundancy finding work. Work
that we know is there because some managers tell us it is.
Allan concludes: “The
membership of this union in Enterprise and right across the company are
under attack on pay, grading and jobs.
“The time for talking is
far from over but the time to prepare for when the talking stops is now.”