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Openreach: Resourcing Shortfall

18 February 2010

CWU Head Office has been advised by Openreach of potential resourcing issues in Service Delivery and Next Generation Access (NGA) build.

Service Delivery

Openreach believe that current forecast and demands show there is a potential shortfall in resource during Quarter 4 and into 2010/11 in Frames Provision, WBC and LLU migrations.

In the first instance, Openreach will seek to resource the shortfall by using direct labour from other BT Lines of Business. Openreach has already sought volunteers from people in the BTTC and in other Lines of Business for Frames night working. To date some 125 people have volunteered.

The CWU Executive team welcomes the fact that Openreach has responded in part to the Unionís view and recognised that there are individuals in other parts of BT, most notably BT Retail, who have engineering skills who could make up some of the shortfall. The CWU team have pressed Openreach further to seek other possible sources of direct labour. Openreach maintains that, even having done all it can to source direct labour, there is likely to be a need to use third party agency labour. This would be for a maximum of eight months. The business has agreed that consultation on resourcing expected volumes in each Region willbe held at that level.

NGA Build

Early in the 2010, Branches in the North West were alerted to the possibility of all (civils and non-civils) NGA build being done by contract in Glossop. The Executive team took this up with Openreach.

Following discussion it transpires that what Openreach wanted was an eight week trial for Managed Service for Cabinet Install. The trial will take place at two Exchanges in Phase 3 which would otherwise fail: these are Glossop and Barking. The contractor requirement will be 8 FTE and 12 FTE respectively. The union has been assured that there is no spare direct labour either in the North West or adjoining patches.

What is included (by contractor):

  • All civil engineering activities and electrical testing but NOT commissioning
  • Copper tie cables and blown fibre bundles and associated splicing
  • Cabinet stand up and power provision
  • Initial site survey to locate RDSLAM provision and power availability
  • All noticing, co-ordination between utilities and external build activity project management

What is not included (and will be done by direct labour):

  • Any technical planning or network planning
  • CCJ spine cable back from exchange cable chamber
  • Any internal exchange cabling or build work
  • Electronics at the head end, commissioning and configuration work

The main aim of the trial is to simplify and move towards single visits for civil work which currently requires multiple hand-offs.

Discussions on the generic resourcing for NGA build will continue at Executive level. We have again told Openreach that there needs to be urgent Regional consultation on the use of contract labour both for NGA build and other activities.


One of the CWUís main criticism of Openreach is that it has grossly underestimated the demand on specific skills. Only recently has it been agreed with the BTTC to add Frames training onto the Skills Development Pathway as part of the redeployment activity. Current and future skill needs will form part of the negotiations at Executive level. We have asked Openreach to urgently share with the CWU the training programme.


Openreach has stated to the CWU that there may be significant redeployees from other Lines of Business. The CWU has sought clarity on this since the union finds it difficult to reconcile this with information regarding the BT Group situation. Members can be assured that every effort is being made by the CWU to ensure that the maximum amount of work is done by direct labour whilst recognising the volatility of demand.