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Openreach: Severe Weather Recovery Plan

26 June 2012

The National Team met with Openreach in order to be presented with data relating to the increased workstack in both provision and repair. Currently only six SOM patches are under the 14k optimum level on repair and the provision workstack is in excess of 190k across the UK. Given the ongoing situation and trend of the workstack, Openreach have taken the decision to invoke a number of actions in order to reverse that trend in the coming 12 weeks, including Contractual Overtime (COT).

The CWU National Team have made clear to Openreach that the agreement between us, as outlined in Clive Gunby’s letter dated 13 May 2011, commits Openreach to only call COT “in very exceptional circumstances (MBORC)”. Clearly the business’s decision to call COT across the whole of the UK regardless of the MBORC declaration status in individual SOM patches moves Openreach outside of that agreement. The CWU reminded Openreach that the reason the agreement was put in place was to ensure that the use of COT was not abused as had been experienced previously.

The CWU further believe the current service crisis is driven by Openreach’s continuing failure to address the serious resourcing shortfall within Service Delivery. This is compounded by a reliance on almost permanent high levels of overtime as well as the use of 3rd party resource in a number of forms. As a result, Openreach are forced once again to utilise COT as a resourcing tool as opposed to its agreed purpose, exceptional circumstances (MBORC) and a number of other methods to address customer service.

Support for COT

The National Team has taken the difficult decision to give qualified support to COT being implemented outside of that agreement on this occasion only on the following basis:

  • Loans – the National Team noted the intention to pursue loans from within Openreach as well as other lines of business within BT and requested details relating to the functions into which they will be placed and the predicted impact on the workstack.
  • Coaches – the National Team has made clear they should only be utilised within the agreement between us relating to a maximum time carrying out field duties in order to assist with service, and that they are returned to coaching duties to restore the level of coaching, support and development for individuals as soon as possible.
  • Hays – the National Team has asked Openreach to quantify the additional resource (FTE) this delivers to the business, the timescales this will apply for, the locations and numbers to which this burden has been applied. The CWU would also expect that if during the 12 week period COT is removed from these locations, that normal working hours will be restored to agency workers within them.
  • Kelly & Quinn – the use of this option is out-with the High Level Resourcing Principles (HLRP) Agreement. We have therefore requested that Openreach reconsider this approach and, as a minimum, would expect that the additional Kelly & Quinn resource will be withdrawn from a SOM patch if the workstack returns to normal levels within a SOM patch.

Consultative Structure

In order to ensure that the use of COT and all other measures are removed as soon as possible, the following consultative structure has been put in place:

  • The respective General Managers will consult at the outset, and on a weekly basis, with the CWU Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) to discuss their local recovery plans and the progress they are making in terms of recovering service. The General Managers will closely monitor the overall repair and provision workstacks, and will jointly review these with the SPOCs when discussing the continuing need for contractual overtime to 21 September in SOM patches. If a decision is taken to cease or reduce contractual overtime before 21 September, those people who had previously committed to work overtime will be able to do so, if that remains their preference.
  • While it will be more productive for people to do full days rather than a number of hours, Openreach recognise that there will be people who just cannot do full days. In these circumstances the business will work with them to find the best way of doing up to the equivalent of 9 days during this period.
  • While the requirement to work up to 9 days over 12 weeks applies to all areas, exceptionally General Managers, with the lowest workstacks, may review their respective service levels and, where deemed appropriate, may consider a variation on the application of how the contractual overtime requirement is met. Any such variations will be discussed with the respective SPOCs.
  • Openreach will use volunteers to work in other areas to support the overall UK wide service recovery.
  • During the 12 week period Openreach will share with the CWU, on a national basis, weekly reports on the repair and provision workstacks across the UK, loans into Service Delivery, the levels of 3rd party resource and the extent of coaches used in the field.

The National Team has not taken this decision lightly and understand the potential impact this will have on many of our members. Whilst our members are pragmatic and understand the impact these circumstances have on the customers they serve daily, their patience will be sorely tested if the business does not recognise the impact these decisions have on them and their families. This must be demonstrated by the business reversing the decision to invoke COT as soon as is practicable in as many, if not all, SOM patches in the UK as soon as is possible.

If COT is not removed from SOM patches where the workstacks are at or below normal levels over two consecutive weeks of reaching and remaining at that level, the CWU will consider withdrawing co-operation.