Communication Workers Union 
Meridian Branch

Union Office, British Telecom, Becket House, New Dover Road,

Canterbury, Kent, CT1 3BB

Tel: 01227 760311 Fax: 01227 815929 e-mail:

Dear Colleague,
Performance and Sick Absence Management in BT
Since I last wrote to you, we have been in intense negotiations with BT on the issues of Performance and Sick Absence Management and I can report that we have made some progress. 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 at to tell me about your experiences. We have had a tremendous response but please continue to send us information if you have not already done so. We have not been able to respond to all of your emails individually but they have proved invaluable in confirming to me the problems that exist throughout BT.
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.
The Negotiating Team gave a full progress report to your Executive last week on the current set of negotiations and it was unanimously agreed that these discussions should continue.
Fuller information is available from your branch but I wanted to highlight some key areas of progress made to date along with those which form part of the continuing negotiation with BT.
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 further discuss our concerns about the speed of progression from an Initial Formal Warning to a Final Formal Warning and the way in which long term sick absence is being counted with short term sick absences. We will also be discussing with each BT Line of Business the concerns we have on their deployment of the procedures 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 both at national level and within each Line of Business, including the performance measures themselves.
We also are aware that many of you have been concerned about the perceived targeting of older workers and this will receive a specific focus. To that end we have arranged a meeting with BT’s Chief Medical Officer to discuss not only what support BT has in place but to have an input to what 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. We have also agreed that individuals will be given at least 10 days to consider all of their options with the CWU. If you are in this situation it is vital that you seek the advice of your local Branch.
These are the key issues but please do talk to your Branch to receive the full correspondence. I hope you agree that we have made some real progress but there is still a way to go before we will be convinced that these procedures are both fit for purpose and more importantly that they are applied in a fair and consistent manner across all of BT.
It is because of the genuine progress made that we have decided to extend our deadline to conclude an agreement with the company. These discussions are not open-ended and we have 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.
Clearly I hope we will then be able to reach an agreement that will significantly improve your experience of Performance and Sick Absence Management at work. However, I cannot rule out the possibility that we will not achieve agreement and therefore that we may need to run a full-scale campaign resulting in industrial action if required. To reiterate what I stated in my last letter, we will do everything in our power to continue to seek a negotiated way forward on these issues but we hope we can count on your support if this is not achievable.
We will of course keep you informed of progress, and I would urge you to keep in contact with your branch or visit our website during this period.





Yours sincerely,




Andy Kerr

Deputy General Secretary (T&FS)

Management Reply to CWU 8th August 2011 >