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Openreach: Site Rationalisation Plan

6 October 2015

National CWU leaders and Branch Officers have re-affirmed their opposition to BT's Openreach site "rationalisation" plan and are urging the company to think again. The business wants to close huge numbers of operational premises across the country and concentrate all of what it describes as "desk-based functions" at just 23 sites nationwide.

Thousands of hard-working employees stand to be affected by the changes which, the union warns, could jeopardise long-term job security, local promotion outlets and the creation of future employment opportunities. Thousands of years of experience would be lost to the business and customers whilst others are forced to travel further, which - after two years - would be at their own expense.

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In plans for a proposed move of Leeds based workers in 2014, the CWU Personnel Team challenged Openreach on their interpretation of the guidance on reasonable travel time, contained within the EDDI Agreement. BT Group confirmed there has been no change to the guidance on reasonable travel, contained within Annex A of the EDDI Agreement. Despite this the company has not reappraised the number of sites required based on the Leeds example recognising that a high percentage of those in scope cannot travel, and it intends to plough ahead regardless of the impact on its employees and the very real knock-on effect on customer service, we predict, for many years ahead.

The CWU wants Openreach to succeed, deliver excellent services to its customers and provide long term careers for the members we represent, but the Working Together programme in our view places that aspiration at risk in the short, medium and long term.

CWU Assistant Secretary Davie Bowman, explains: "Our members are very worried about the changes in this plan, the uncertainty created, the excessive travel times to new locations, and there is also the damaging impact that this could have on customer service and the business itself. We have not been given any business case or rationale which would support the current plan, and our branches and our national negotiating team simply cannot agree with this way forward."

The union, at national and local branch level, is committed to "utilising all means possible" to retain "the maximum number of highly skilled roles in the maximum number of locations" he said.

CWU Deputy General Secretary Andy Kerr said: "The industrial executive met this week and fully supports the stand taken by the Openreach national team and urges BT Openreach to change their position and sit down and find an agreed way forward with the CWU."