“It might have taken us a long time to get to this point – but we’ve got there by sticking together, remaining resolute and not giving up, and it’s vital we never forget that ..”
Concerted pressure by the CWU has secured a major win for thousands of members across Openreach in the form of the company’s announcement that it is abandoning the hated requirement for them to give up to 60 minutes of their time for nothing at each end of the working day.
Almost two years after the launch of the union’s high profile ‘Our Hours’ campaign against the blatantly unfair treatment of an ever growing percentage of the field engineering workforce, management have today (Tuesday) pledged to scrap the despised ‘Personal Travel Time’ (PTT) system in its entirety on February 3.
With just over half of the entire field engineering workforce set to benefit – namely all those employed since September 2012 when the company reneged on an almost identical previous agreement with the union – the news represents an early Christmas present giving some much-needed New Year’s cheer to around 14,000 individuals.
The long-awaited breakthrough follows the direct intervention of CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr in top level talks with the company aimed at achieving a negotiated settlement of the union’s ‘Count Me In’ campaign of resistance against BT-wide attacks on job security and terms and conditions.
But underpinning management’s 180 degree about-turn on PTT – the switch-off of which will follow a plethora of enabling system changes and employee briefings in January to explain timesheet protocols in details – has been a groundswell of grass-roots anger. Forcefully articulated through the union, that anger has been steadily building for nearly a decade and was clearly not going to go away.
Frustration at the company’s ‘Our Hours’ robbery was demonstrated most eye-catchingly in an audacious week of ‘time bandit’ raids on Openreach workplaces across Wales & The Marches in October 2019, with a plethora of other activities across the country and a national petition reinforcing the message of defiance.
“The union’s Openreach National Team would like to thank everyone involved for their fantastic response in what has been long and difficult campaign,” stresses CWU national officer for Openreach, Davie Bowman.
“Members, in particular, have continued to put pressure on both the company and the CWU at all levels for this to be resolved, and that pressure has paid off – showing what can be achieved when we act as one.
“The upshot is that from February 3rd, ‘their hours’ will become ‘your hours’ in a very fitting conclusion to the ‘Our Hours’ campaign!
“There’s an important message there, I think, about the importance of solidarity as we face the inevitable challenges that the months and years ahead will bring.”
Openreach National Team chair Fiona Curtis continues: “From the outset, this has been all about equality and everyone being treated the same – and that is precisely what we’ll have achieved in this area come February 3rd.
“It might have taken us a long time to get to this point – but we’ve got there by sticking together, remaining resolute and not giving up, and it’s vital we never forget that.”
Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr concludes: “Earlier this year – during the course of an online members meeting about the ‘Count Me’ In campaign – our grassroots members in Openreach could not have been clearer about the extent to which they regarded PTT as a weeping sore that had to be addressed.
“I pledged there and then to get this longstanding injustice resolved once and for all – because while the PTT issue had never been directly part of the ‘Count Me In’ campaign, it was symptomatic of a company approach to its workforce that urgently needs to be re-set.
“Thanks to sustained pressure from the grass roots and the determination of the CWU at every level we now have a significant win to celebrate, and I hope it proves to be the precursor of more to follow.”
More on the background to the Our Hours Campaign can be found here.