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BT: Performance and Absence Update

19 August 2011

The CWU has been in intense negotiations with BT on the issues of Performance and Sick Absence Management and the union has made some progress. The Negotiating Team gave a full progress report to the Executive on the current set of negotiations early in August 2011, and it was unanimously agreed that these discussions should continue.

Sick Absence

It has been agreed that the ‘Bradford Factor’ will rise from a threshold of 80 to 100 from immediate effect and although this does not resolve all our issues it is a welcome move in the right direction. BT has also agreed to discuss concerns about the speed of progression from an Initial Formal Warning to a Final Formal Warning and the way long term sick absence is being counted with short term sick absences. We will also be discussing with each BT Line of Business to ensure there is a consistent approach across BT Group.

Performance Management

The issues of the levelling process and the emphasis on continuous improvement are closely linked and these issues form a key part of the continuing negotiations.

The union is aware that many members are concerned about the perceived targeting of older workers and this will receive a specific focus, so a meeting has been arranged with BT’s Chief Medical Officer to discuss what support BT has in place and what support is planned.

The proactive offering of compromise agreements which has been a major issue for us will now cease, although all options open to the individual should be explained within the confines of the confidential 1:1 performance or absence discussions between managers and their people.

Further Negotiations

Although there has been some progress there is still a way to go before we will be convinced that these procedures are both fit for purpose and being are applied in a fair and consistent manner across all of BT. It is because of the genuine progress made that the union has decided to extend the deadline to conclude an agreement with the company. These discussions are not open-ended and the CWU has jointly agreed a new deadline of 30 September and during that time we will be holding continuous meetings at national level with both BT Group and the BT Lines of Business.

Thanks from the Deputy General Secretary

Andy Kerr, Deputy General Secretary (T&FS), said:

"This could only have been done by the company acknowledging that we had the full support of members in a campaign on this issue and I personally would like to thank you for your commitment to the Union.

I would also like to thank those of you who took the time and trouble to email me to tell me about your experiences. They have also proved invaluable in our negotiations with BT where we have quoted passages from your emails – always ensuring that your identity could not be compromised – to great effect."