The CWU has reacted angrily to the decision of BT Group Functions to commence a compulsory redundancy (CR) consultation exercise in four separate corporate units despite – pointing out that the comparatively tiny headcount reduction being sought could easily be achieved through voluntary means.
Amid shock and disbelief that a division that employs well over 11,000 has moved straight to a CR process to achieve just 24 job losses, the CWU yesterday(Thursday) reminded BT of its legal obligations to ‘avoid and reduce’ compulsory job losses wherever possible and to mitigate the consequences of any dismissals though a process of consultation.
With individual consultation meetings expected to commence as early as Monday, the union has pointed out the ludicrousness of a formal redundancy process being used to secure just two job losses in the Legal business unit – and as few as eight and 10 respectively in the much larger Group Finance and Corporate Affairs units – without a voluntary leaver package first being offered.
In a further move that reflects a wider sea-change in BT’s Group-wide formerly enlightened approach to staff surplus situations in recent months – reversing a long and successful history of the company utilising opportunities for redeployment and reskilling in tandem with the offering of VR packages – the Human Resources business unit is also planning to make four redeployees compulsorily redundant.
“These proposals represent a major shift in the way BT Group Functions has previously managed surpluses for team member grade employees – and, as I’m sure many members are aware, the CWU has been fighting against compulsory redundancies in other parts of BT,” stresses CWU assistant secretary Dave Jukes.
“As they stand, these proposals are completely unacceptable; the union is opposed to any compulsory redundancies and will do everything it possibly can to try and keep members in work.”
The union’s national officer for BT Group Functions continues: “Make no mistake – the company has deliberately chosen to take this approach, because there really is no necessity for a CR process when just a couple of dozen job losses are being sought in division that has an overall headcount of well over 11,000.
“This new direction is symptomatic of a new aggressive management approach that is completely different from the one that saw tens of thousands of job losses across BT in the decades after privatisation without the need for a single compulsory redundancy of a team member grade employee.
“The numbers affected in BT Group Function may be small, but numbers mean people, and livelihoods are at stake. Sadly it seems, from what we are already witnessing in other parts of BT, that this aggressive new approach is not going to go away – and that why the unions ‘Count Me In’ campaign of resistance is so important.