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BT: Holborn - Slow Progress

14 September 2009

The Executive team dealing with the Performance Management and Management style thread of Project Holborn are aware that there does not seem to have been any progress over the past few months.

The Executive gave a number of commitments to delegates at the 2009 CWU Annual Conference in order to gain their support for the Conference proposition on Project Holborn in respect of Performance Management and Management Style. Part of that commitment was that there would be a company statement that was intended to demonstrate the willingness to change. The CWU committed that there would be a change to the Managing Changing Capabilities (MCC) procedure. A further commitment was that there would be an appeals procedure in the performance and attendance procedures and the union committed to a ballot for industrial action by Christmas, if there had been no step change in management style by that time.

There has been some progress; the issue of hospital appointments has been positively clarified. John McGee, Head of Employee Relations in Operate, on behalf of BT Group, has written to the CWU outlining work being undertaken to introduce the appeals procedures at the Initial Formal Warning and Final Formal Warning stages of the discipline process. He has also stated the new structure of Managing Changing Capabilities will provide for a better focus and consistency in dealing with MCC cases across the business as a whole.

However, there are a number of other areas where there is no progress and even where there has been progress, it has been slow. To date there is no company statement. This CWU view is that this is simply not acceptable and the Deputy General Secretary has written to Alex Wilson to reiterate the need for such a statement to be forthcoming.

Assistant Secretary, Grace Mitchell, has made it clear to BT that she is concerned about compromise agreements being a feature of performance and attendance management replacement across several lines of business; although there is no doubt that the use of this mechanism has decreased. Most importantly, there is no feeling of change amongst the membership. The number of cases for review, which is ongoing, has increased rather than fallen and there is clearly a major issue within BT Operate in particular. She feels that there is a significant danger the union will fail to reach a position where it is felt that there is a real change in management style and a meaningful commitment from BT before Christmas.

The Project Holborn team will be reporting to the Executive in October on the position the union faces. The Executive will be expecting to see some solid evidence that we are moving forward. Resolving the MCC and appeals processes will go someway towards allaying their concerns but the union feels that a clear timetable for further progress needs to be established.