New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Redundancy battles

by New Worker correspondent

THE Communication Workers Union (CWU) has described the actions of British Telecommunications (BT) Enterprise division as “needless and morally bankrupt” for using the threat of compulsory redundancy over hundreds of workers at the BT division that deals with business customers.

The CWU says such harsh language is justified because there are plenty of suitable redeployment opportunities for the vast majority of those who do not wish to take voluntary leaver payments. It also accuses bosses of using divide and rule tactics by treating those volunteering for voluntary redundancy at different sites differently and of ignoring long-established procedures.

It noted that 60,000 job cuts in BT between 1992—1995 were achieved using a combination of voluntary leaver packages, recruitment freezes, redeployment and re-skilling — including 29,300 in 1992 alone — so CWU said it is baffled as to why the comparatively tiny ‘surplus’ (about 50) that exists in BT Enterprise today cannot be dealt with in the same enlightened way.

To make matters more complicated, there have been cases of people wanting to go who have belatedly been told they cannot, therefore denying job opportunities for those who wish to stay.

“I simply cannot accept that company the size of BT cannot manage a surplus situation this small without the need for compulsory redundancies — especially when it knows that pressing that button will set it on a direct collision course with the CWU,” insists CWU national officer for BT Enterprise Allan Eldred. He added that: “With every passing day it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the situation Enterprise has created is wholly unnecessary and, worse, one that seems to have been deliberately manufactured to test this union.”

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr stressed the situation in BT Enterprise has to be viewed in the context of plans already announced by BT to move from 300 to 30 locations in the coming years, and suspects that: “This move is cynically motivated and the start of a different stance taken by the company to restructure the business using the threat of compulsory redundancy.”