Telecoms & Financial Services Conference: Day Two round-up

Telecoms & Financial Services

The CWU’s 2019 Telecoms & Financial Services (T&FS) Conference resumed in Bournemouth this morning, with delegates continuing to make the policy decisions that will shape the T&FS Executive¹s negotiating agenda for the coming year.

Proceedings began with a section devoted to issues surround sick leave and attendance issues in BT and Openreach – and first off delegates gave their unanimous backing to a motion forward to Annual Conference by this spring’s CWU disability Conference.

Proposed by Peter Sharrocks of the Disability Advisory Committee and seconded by Jacky Morrey of Mid-Wales, The Marches &  North Staffs Branch, the motion commits the Executive to enter into urgent discussions with BT Group to ensure that a comprehensive disability-related sick leave policy is created and implemented, covering all members in the company regardless of tenure.

Conference went on to instruct the T&FS Executive to pursue a improvements to the company’s current sick/attendance management process and the guidance provided for  members experiencing mental health issues or living with neurodiversity. Delegates unanimously agreed the improvements should “ensure genuine and equitable managerial discretion” on matters such as the ring-fencing/ discounting of absences”, and the decision as to whether sanctions were appropriate at all.

Concern was also expressed at inadequacies in the information/ evidence packs provided to members who have been called to formal attendance hearings – with Conference unanimously instructing the Executive to enter into urgent negotiations with BT and Openreach to ensure that all managers are reminded of their responsibility to furnish employees with any evidence held against them in advance of the meeting.

Finally, delegates instructed the Executive to challenge BT Consumer on the inappropriate use of second line manager reviews, urging the need for a “total review” of a process that is not only distressing for members but, once in place, can ultimately lead to dismissal. Supporting the motion on behalf of the Executive, Dave Tee admitted that “like the branches we have been frustrated and angered at the lack of progress” on an issue that the CWU has raised repeatedly with the company.

Other highlights of a busy day of debate saw delegates giving their unanimous support to:

  • A Somerset, Devon & Cornwall Branch demand for the T&FS Executive to pursue a policy with BT which recognises the menopause as an occupational health issue for women. In a passionate debate one speaker poignantly observed that she could “guarantee that if men went through the menopause there would be reasonable adjustments in place!”
  • A Tyne and Wear Clerical Branch motion instructing Executive to negotiate a domestic violence policy within BT Group.
  • A Somerset, Devon & Cornwall Branch demand for the Executive to consult with EE to provide training for managers on disability processes and guidelines in order to provide a fair and equal workplace.
  • A Mersey Branch demand for discussions to be opened with BT to provide clearer guidance around the application of the Special Leave process to give clarity – in the light of apparent inconsistencies – as to the situations where it would be expected that paid special leave would be granted.
  • A Tyne & Wear Branch motion instructing the Executive to remove the so –called ‘Quintile’ performance-related element of EE member’s annual pay review.
  • Two separate motions expressing concern at the recent outsourcing of BT Facilities Services and the potential impact the move – which was vehemently opposed by the CWU from start to finish – will have on the state of the BT Estate and the standards of cleanliness within them.
  • A Scotland No.1 Branch motion instructing the T&FS Executive to build on the union’s current Period Poverty campaign by entering into discussions with BT with a view to free access to sanitary products being provided at work.
  • A Somerset, Devon & Cornwall Branch motion demanding negotiations with BT to develop air pollution policies and guidance in order to give members’ better protection from diesel exhaust particles.

Delegates also gave 100 per cent backing to an emergency motion instructing the Executive to negotiate a satisfactory conclusion to an “unreasonable and unjustified attack” on the salaries of a group members in BT ITS.

With outrage growing at the exclusion of ex-Computacenter and ‘Viper’ members from consolidated pay increases for the past three years, Conference agreed that unless a satisfactory conclusion can be reached by July this year the relevant members should be balloted for industrial action.