13th January 2022 – Update.
Openreach has today (Thursday) reinforced its commitment to helping ALL engineers in Service Delivery upskill to ‘advanced engineering’ level within two years – bringing the tantalising prospect of significant pay hikes for more than 3,000 into sharp and achievable focus.
Seven weeks to the day after a major breakthrough in long-running discussions with the company to secure an ‘enhanced career pathway’ was reported to members, see below, Openreach has this afternoon emailed all those who stand to benefit, confirming they have been automatically enrolled in the 2022/23 training schedule for underground (UG) skilling, should they wish to take it up.
Agreement has just been reached with Openreach Service Delivery (SD) on improved promotion opportunities for TMNE2 engineers that should see more than 3,000 receive significant pay uplifts over the next two years.
While the talks in SD have taken slightly longer to reach their positive conclusion than parallel discussions in Fibre Network Delivery – the welcome outcome of which was reported earlier this month, the ‘career pathways’ deal in SD is even more significant in terms of the numbers that will benefit.
CWU Openreach National Team chair Fiona Curtis explains: “Openreach has committed to provide an opportunity for all current engineers in UK Operations, Network Engineering Design and Fibre to the Premise to receive the relevant training to advance over the next two years.
“This means that ALL engineers currently in SD will have an opportunity to progress to Advanced Engineer, if that is what they want, and that is a massive step forward.”
National officer for Openreach, Davie Bowman continues: “The agreed plan will see circa 3,100 members upskilled in the next two years. This is a major achievement by the CWU on behalf of our members, and the National Team is sure this will be welcomed by all those impacted.”
The difference the deal will make to individuals in practical terms is significant, because it fast-tracks progression from the lower TMNE2 pay point of £25,775 plus 10% bonus to the upper paypoint £28,911 and 10% OTB – a pay hike of just over £3,000.
One significant change contributing to the fast-tracking of career progression is that the H&S training module – which has to be completed as a precursor to the advanced engineering skills modules – has now been added to the training package completed in the first few weeks of employment as a trainee engineer.
Davie explains: “Members who complete the H&S training during their traineeship will receive the pay uplift at the point at which they complete one of the advanced skills qualifying courses – and this will be effective from the start date of the course (or first qualifying module for combined complex cabling and jointing).
“Engineers who did not complete the health and safety training during their traineeship will receive the pay uplift backdated to the start of the health and safety course, following the completion of the final course on the pathway, in line with the existing agreement.
“Significantly, Openreach has agreed that any Advanced Engineer training which is cancelled due to operational constraints will be rescheduled into the following quarter. That’s an important step forward because previously, on average, it could take an engineer up to three years to progress to an Advanced Engineer.”
In a bid to ensure the promised fast-tracking of that process is delivered in practice, the CWU has secured a company undertaking that it will track and share metrics of the number of engineers achieving ‘Advanced’ status and timeframes with the CWU.
“We will be carefully monitoring that crucial information in the weeks and months ahead,” Davie pledges.