Openreach Service Delivery declares un-agreed Contractual Overtime (COT)

21st August 2020 – Update

Outrageous instances of some Openreach managers leaning on Service Delivery (SD)  engineers to sign away their legal right to not be forced to work for more than 48 hours a week have prompted a furious response from the CWU.

Pointing out that the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) still applies in UK law – despite Brexit – CWU assistant secretary Davie Bowman has hit out at the fact that the CWU is even having to remind a major blue chip company about this fundamental point of employment law.

Openreach’s extraordinary lapse comes just a week after the union issued a stern warning to management not to “step over the line and endanger our members’ safety” as the company moved to invoke ‘Contractual Overtime’ (COT) on the SD workforce. Read more »

18th August 2020

As you know the company, on August 13th 2020, decided to call COT once again within Openreach Service Delivery. So, lightning does strike twice, and in some cases even 3 or 4 times, especially in our region. This commenced last Saturday, and Service Delivery Openreach have asked you, our members, to give 4 days over the next 6 weeks. This does not include desk or frames people for now. All of you will have also seen in the comms that on this occasion, there was no mention of a joined-up approach from Openreach and the CWU. This is because we are unable to support this burden of COT at a time when COVID 19 transmission is rising again, where cities and whole regions are going into further lockdown, and additional time at work will increase your exposure to risk. Some of you have supported with voluntary over time, but there are many who quite rightly do not wish to do that as they have vulnerable family and friends at home.

The CWU argued in urgent meetings on 13th August at a Regional and National level, that during the Covid 19 Pandemic, invoking COT is a slap in the face for the CWU members who have been keeping the country going and undermines the battle to overcome the Covid virus.

Your efforts and commitment during this period were already ‘rewarded’ with the imposition of having to take annual leave and a harder line on flex. Whether you work in rural parts of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire or Berkshire or the centre of Luton, Milton Keynes, Oxford or Reading, you have continued to deliver for the country and Openreach. Invoking COT without CWU support is following a trend towards a harder line to agreements and terms and conditions.

As a branch it would be remiss of us to remind you that in the current situation when faced with any Covid risk then you can legitimately refuse to carry out that task. We do not support placing any of our members at greater risk through additional attendance. Please let us know immediately of any instances of managers stepping over the line in attempts to get more work done. We would also encourage you to speak with your management as well as your CWU workplace reps and activists to make your feelings known. We believe that the past six months has been take, take, take from the company. After several conversations with some of you, we understand many of you feel the same way. It is important that we inform the company in any way we can, your feelings towards this move to exploit COT in all social media including Workplace and team meetings etc. The company must know your frame of mind on this and that the time has come for us to tell them that enough is enough.

We must add here whilst talking about social media please, please guard against the use of unparliamentary language and the defamation of the company. Do not leave yourself open to any charges of misrepresentation and obscene language.

Davie Bowman, our Openreach Assistant Secretary at Head Office has sent the following to Openreach Senior Management:

Openreach management are being issued a stern warning not to “step over the line” as the company moves to invoke Contractual Overtime on the workforce.

In a strongly-worded communication to the union’s regional co-ordinators across the UK, assistant secretary Davie Bowman urges them to ensure full compliance with statutory working hours regulations and safe working procedures, insisting: “We will not allow the business to place any of our members at greater risk through additional attendance. ” The controversial step by the company comes against the backdrop of jobs being moved elsewhere within the business and is, according to Davie “a ludicrous position.

“They have just allowed circa 150 people to leave Service Delivery and join the Chief Engineer’s organisation, and there are also currently circa 30 Coaches on loan as well,” he explains, speaking of his and the union’s “disgust” that this approach is being taken by Openreach.

“Our members have supported the company over the last number of months assisting in keeping the country connected and have seen no thanks in return,” Davie continues, adding that “they remain worried regarding the potential impact of Covid on them, their families and the customers they assist”.  Yet our members continue to be “put through the mill” with regard to annual leave as well as a refusal by Openreach to move away from the long held problem of personal travel time .

Regional CWU co-ordinators have been instructed to advise all their members to ensure that “each and every one of them” is enabled to access their current EWTD (Working Time Directive) total – which must include travel time – and to remind them of their statutory right to refuse to carry out any overtime which would put them in breach of EWTD. 

“The CWU will support anyone who does so and will act immediately should any manager seek to coerce or bully someone in those circumstances and any instances of managers stepping over the line will be dealt with immediately,” he pledges.