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Openreach: Service Recovery Resourcing

4 November 2010

It has been the view of the CWU Executive that there needed to be a significant injection of resource to end, once and for all, the current cycle of contractual overtime. There have been numerous talks with Openreach at which the CWU has strongly pressed the case for recruitment.

Fixed Term Contracts and Agency Recruitment

Openreach had agreed to recruit 200 additional engineers in London and the North East, whilst initially this resource will be on a Fixed Term Contract, the CWU is pressing for the people to be given permanent contracts, assuming the high level of provision orders continue.

In the last week of October 2010, following further representation from the CWU, Openreach has agreed to further recruit a combination of Fixed Term Contracts and Agency. The CWU has welcomed the extra resource but has sought to get all of the above additional resource, as initially, Fixed Term Contract. Openreach has concerns that in the current volatile market, it needs a degree of flexibility enabling it to focus on longer term resource needs.

Apprentices

There will also be recruitment onto permanent BT contracts of 250 “apprentices”. These are not Modern Apprentices but more akin to craft apprentices who will combine working in the field with regular bouts of training. The practical details are being jointly worked on but it is a significant breakthrough to get direct external recruitment.

Furure Resource Shortfall

Both the CWU and Openreach are conscious that as the end of the pension easement window approaches (April 2012) many older members may take the opportunity to retire. The CWU has argued that planning for this and for the skills of the future must begin now. The Union recognises and welcomes the recruitment of 221 Modern Apprentices this year but believes more needs to be done.

The CWU believes the shortfall in 2010 could run into thousands and have pressed Openreach to act accordingly. We regard an intake of 250 “craft apprentices” as a beginning. We also recognise that there is a finite training capacity. However, the CWU wants to see a phased (if necessary) recruitment strategy over the next year to year and a half.

In short, the CWU is doing all that can be done, not just to secure jobs, but to actually grow the workforce so that members never again have the experiences of the past few months.