The Federation of Communications Services (FCS) has accused the Communications Workers Union (CWU) of ‘aligning with BT’s status-quo’.
The Industry body was responding to threats made by the CWU to kick start an industrial and political campaign against splitting up BT Openreach. The telecoms union issued a 10-point rebuttal to plans put forward by senior execs from Vodafone, Sky, TalkTalk and the FCS to both financially and legally separate BT from its broadband arm.
The CWU’s deputy general secretary of telecoms, Andy Kerr directly challenged these proposals, claiming that legal separation would severely impact on broadband investment and drain resources. He said separation would give no incentive for networks to invest but would instead force Openreach to renegotiate the contracts of 32,000 employees.
Speaking to Mobile, FCS CEO Chris Pateman branded Kerr’s comments as ‘speculation’. He said: ‘Considering the CWU’s first responsibility is to its members, rather than BT shareholders, it appears to enjoy an amazingly well-informed insight into BT’s investment plans to speak with such authority. Exactly the kind of insight we, customers, would like to enjoy if Openreach’s reporting processes were not so intimately and opaquely conjoined with those of the BT Group.
‘It’s a pity to see the union so philosophically aligned with the BT status-quo. It’s particularly worrying to see a progressive, 21st century trade union arguing that a sustainable future can be built upon forcing a single ‘anchor tenant’ customer to buy your service no matter what. The UK’s industrial relations landscape is littered with the wreckage of industries — from mining and shipbuilding to the tragedy of today’s steel industry — whose managements and unions colluded to try and maintain outmoded business structures well beyond their sell-by dates. We really can’t afford the same thing to happen in comms.’
‘We had hoped the CWU’s response to our 10-point plan would contain an analysis of the likely effect on Openreach workers’ conditions and morale. Instead, we have a series of largely unsubstantiated comments and speculations that sound more like something from BT Corporate Affairs.‘
Mobile has contact the CWU and is awaiting a response.