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Openreach: Performance Management 2013

28 March 2013

It is now 15 months since the re-launch of the Two Way Deal in Openreach. In recent months the CWU Executive, National Team (NT), Branches and members have become increasingly concerned at the direction Openreach are taking on performance management across all business units. Assistant Secretary Davie Bowman wrote to Joe McDavid, HR Director Openreach, in order to set out our concerns in specific areas of how performance management is being applied and the impact we believe this is having on those we represent.

Climate of Fear

There continues to be a view from Openreach that they disagree that a ‘climate of fear’ exists within the business unit as the Care Agile scores indicate that things are improving and that employee engagement is ‘as high as it has ever been’.

The CWU NT have not been receiving e-mails or calls from members and Branches telling us how good it is to work in Openreach and how ‘engaged’ they are feeling. It has been quite the opposite with the numbers increasing as the weeks go on.

In the CWU’s opinion members feel this way due to:

  • the punitive and inappropriate use of performance data,
  • the dramatic increase in those managed out of the business by proactively offering compromise agreements,
  • concern that there is a lack of recognition that those redeployed from both within and outwith Openreach into the field roles require additional support to come to terms with the change in work function they have experienced.

The NT does recognise that there are many first line managers who try and apply the two way deal and performance management in the way it was intended, but the reality in the NT’s view is that they are ‘swimming against the tide’.

Continuous Improvement / Performance Measures

The NT cannot accept that after numerous reminders and prompts Openreach cannot provide the CWU with a comprehensive list of measures which apply to our members. It is difficult to see therefore how the two way deal is being applied in the absence of measures which are visible and understood by the members we represent.

We have raised issues associated with the way in which, for example, iPoP data is being used and the move towards identifying random `behavioural’ issues when an individual’s performance (the trend) is not a cause for concern.

From the cases formally escalated to the NT as well as those we assist in a more informal way the CWU believe no consideration is being taken in relation to the changing demographic within the team member population, specifically related to age, and that those who are in the older age bracket are being disproportionately targetet.

Compromise Agreements

The NT do not accept that the use of Compromise Agreements (CAs) has been in line with the agreements between us. Numerous examples have been raised by Branches and members which clearly show that has not been the case. The NT have still not been provided with the guidance/documentation provided to line managers which sets out the agreement between us and an instruction to follow it.

In recent months the number of CAs signed-off across Openreach has increased at alarming rates as demonstrated by the latest figures supplied by the business below.

graph showing increase in CAs from 3 in April 2012 to 45 in Feb 2013


The NT do not agree that adequate support is given to those who are new to Service Delivery (Field) or that appropriate consideration is given to the impact of the aging demographic of the Openreach workforce.

CWU Performance Management Survey of Members

The CWU has recently launched a BT Group-wide performance management survey of our members. This will be completed prior to our Annual Conference and the outcome presented there. The previous survey carried out across BT Group highlighted Openreach as a particular area of concern. That formed part of the discussions which led to the re-launch of the two-way deal and the exchanges of correspondence between the CWU and BT at both Group and Line of Business level. The CWU Openreach NT firmly believes that the outcome of this latest survey will again put Openreach in the national spotlight.

Members are requested to continue highlight examples where Openreach are failing to adhere to the agreements between us.

The NT will be meeting Openreach to discuss performance management prior to Conference and a further update will be circulated to Branches.