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CWU Telecom And Financial Services Conference 2017 Report

Pic: Derek MaylorDerek Maylor, the Branch's Telecoms Health and Safety Officer gives us a run down of the motions debated at this year's CWU Annual Telecom and Financial Services industrial conference.

His report focuses on the issues around the health and safety of working conditions of our members working in BT Fleet, BT Openreach and in BT:

It was recognised that the progress BT Fleet made in securing work and contracts that will in turn secure the long term employment of our members, now we look to BT Fleet to turn its attention to those members and the environments in which they work. Many workshops are old, dirty and cold: unlike those of the employees in the dealerships work in, who our members are so often measured against. Therefore we will liaise with BT Fleet to undertake joint, site by site visits: looking at the state and conditions of all the BT Fleet workshops, including welfare facilities, with a view to upgrading them to a standard that both CWU and BT Fleet agree is acceptable.

Due to the increase in Saturday attendances within BT Openreach Service Delivery, there is now a lack of duty of care as well as general support for our members on Saturdays. We will negotiate a duty of care and managerial support be put into place for each area.
We will seek new principles regarding the company’s policies in relation to First Aid. This needs guarantees to make training readily available for those wanting to undertake it and a minimum number qualified for every work area. We need refresher and ongoing support with a process for people working in the external network to give them access a first aider.

There is concern at the failure of BT Openreach to put in to action the process that ensures that engineers are safe when working is high risk areas. Currently the information is not always passed to the engineer when the job is allocated and on arrival at site the member may have a long wait for the support to arrive. Work allocation and Service Delivery must ensure that engineers are not working unsafely due to the allocation of work and lack of coordination to ensure quick access to support in high risk areas.

It appears that jobs are being closed by Facility Managers as being completed but little or no work undertaken and with no covering notes. The CWU will work with USR’s and BT to bring BTFS Management to account for their failure to provide adequate, arrangements, procedures and controls to risks to health and safety arising from BT Properties.

Following the recent storm damage to Frodsham the Branch raised concern over asbestos management within BT. The internal asbestos management system shows that many buildings have not been inspected for several years, despite there being a legal obligation to inspect “at least every six to twelve months” [HSE] and to keep records up to date.

Conference agreed to urge the reinstatement of the BT/CWU Asbestos Forum to ensure that asbestos within the BT Estate is managed to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Documentation relating to use of elevating platforms emphases the cost implications of MEWP use are being used discourage them being called for. We need to remove cost considerations from the internal documentation and commence an awareness campaign to promote the use of elevating platforms as the first choice for accessing telegraph poles.

There is growing fear amongst our members in BT that employees with disability are not finding BT a supportive employer despite it being signed up to the Government's Disability Confident Scheme. Furthermore there has been an increase in the number of our members who find themselves moved to the Adjusted Job Search process without any change to their condition. There is a hard-line approach to those who have had an absence from work for disability related reasons where management subsequently do not take their underlying condition into consideration. This unsupportive approach is often seen when such members are being managed under the Performance Management Process.

Whilst BT puts great emphasis in raising disability awareness and also in encouraging precautionary measures to reduce the effects of disability in the workplace it falls short in supporting and valuing the contribution our members with disability bring.
BT needs to actively remove barriers which prevent employees with disability making a full contribution at work and give them peace of mind that their needs are properly understood. We will seek a new set of principles that offer real protection to those BT employees with disability and firmly live the values of the Disability Confident Scheme.

It is recognised that members in the workplace with disabilities or illness face a failure of managers to take these issues into consideration when managing people and adding to their stress and aggravating their health condition though lack of support, disciplinary action and failure to make reasonable adjustments. This must end and BT must comply with the equality act and treat employees as human beings not statistics.

It was noted that there are appalling conditions for many workers in the clothing industry around the world and we need to ensure that all company bought corporate clothing is ethically sourced from suppliers that observe international labour standards.

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