11th September 2020 – Furious repayment planners have delivered the starkest possible warning to Openreach that, if necessary, they are prepared to take strike action against unagreed changes to their grading and job description.
In a remarkable show of defiance against a belligerent new management approach that is manifesting itself across different parts of BT, the small but fiercely loyal group of CWU members – who conduct a hugely complex and highly lucrative role for Openreach – had taken the unusual step of asking the union to register their willingness to take industrial action over the changes ahead of a formal industrial action ballot.
Under the consultative ballot that commenced on September 2 in response to the demands of repayment engineers to express their fury and solidarity in a tangible and irrefutable way, just one question was asked. Namely: ‘In the event that the union obtains a ‘yes’ vote in a future ballot for industrial action – and in to achieve our aims regarding the grade and functions of the Repayment Project Engineer – are you willing to take part in official industrial action consisting of a strike?’
That ballot closed at noon today – and result is unequivocal, with members voting ‘yes’ by nine-to-one in a 92% turnout.
CWU national officer for Openreach Davie Bowman observers: “Our repayment planner members have spoken and they couldn’t have delivered a clearer message to Openreach that the company’s total disregard for their clearly expressed concerns is absolutely unacceptable.
“It’s important to note that the members themselves demanded this consultative ballot –with the union’s national team making no recommendation that might have influenced the result.
The overwhelming turnout and clarity of the vote is a clear message to the company to change tack and I sincerely hope that message is being received loud and clear this afternoon in Openreach’s Judd Street headquarters.”