You will have seen from various correspondences the details of the proposed agreement between the CWU and BT Group over our pay dispute. We know that it was only through your determined efforts in voting for and supporting industrial action that forced a change in the mindset at the top of the company. Before you cast your vote the Branch officers would like to detail a few aspects we believe are significant.
Firstly, and most importantly, it is your collective choice as to whether to accept the terms offered. The fact that the company imposed the original pay increase rather than negotiate with us and let you express your judgement was unacceptable. This is no longer the case and your right to your opinion on your pay has been restored.
We do also believe that achieving a consolidated rise in pay was imperative following previous examples of the company making one-off “bonus” payments which fail to improve your annual salary, overtime rates or associated allowances.
The subject of grading agreements will not affect the majority of you directly in the short term but it is an important long term issue for everyone. Having a job badged incorrectly to a grade or working at an unagreed pay grade almost inevitably results in higher skilled work being carried out at a lower pay rate for the task, thus leading to a downward spiral in wages overall. For example we know of some TMNE3’s being paid less than a TMNE2 salary. It has therefore been a long standing desire, both of local Branches and the Union nationally, to get these issues resolved. The resolution of this matter is likely to see a tangible increase in pay for those involved.
The agreement also mentions a commitment “to renew and strengthen the way we work together” which hopefully will result in an improvement in dialogue between the CWU and the employer on other issues. These should, we hope, include some which we as a Branch have been pushing Head Office for a resolution on. High on this list is the continuing strategy of removing desk based roles through the office closure program and the lack of flexible working options for those displaced.
Negotiations usually conclude with some form of compromise with neither side achieving all of their objectives and both parties wondering if they could have achieved more from the outcome. It is now up to you to decide the merits of this agreement. In doing so we should all consider what more we could have done both individually and collectively to achieve a more favourable outcome and what we may have to do in the future.
If the membership, as an entirety, choose that the outcome of the consultation ballot is a rejection of the offer then the next stage would be a requirement for a new formal ballot on industrial action. This would be required because the existing mandate expires at the end of the year. Once again, by law, this would need to be by post and have to be held in the 3 lines of employment (BT Group, Openreach and EE). Each of these would need to meet the required legal thresholds for action to take place. Clearly we would then need everyone’s full continuing support of any action. As a Branch we have already made some preparations for this eventuality. These include ensuring we hold your correct home address. Therefore if you do not receive your 2023 diary in the coming days through the post then please contact the Branch to check your details or email email@example.com.
Finally please do make sure that you do vote. This is about expressing your view as part of the collective decision.
Your Branch Officers