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Openreach: SD Survey - Proof of Concept

28 September 2017

The National Team (NT) has been consulted by Openreach on a Proof of Concept they wish to run across a number of SOM patches in both UKN and UKS.

During the summer, in order to reduce survey dwell times and tails, four individuals (1 Survey Officer and 3 field engineers) were tasked with completing an element of survey work. This entailed the Survey Officer cherry picking jobs that he believed could be completed with his support remotely. The initiative lasted for circa 4 weeks.

Those involved at all levels were subject to non-disclosure agreements which meant that they could not discuss the initiative with anyone outside those directly involved. There was no consultation with the CWU either locally or nationally at that time. It is important to note that the Proof of Concept being rolled out is not the same model that was used at that time and those involved (CWU represented grades) have not shaped the final outcome. The reality is the company has allowed a number of people to leave with a payment and will not accept that they should be replaced with C3 Survey Officers.

The Proof of Concept (POC) will involve all survey tasks being allocated to a number of our field members (circa 180 across the SOM patches listed) as well as the current survey population. The field resource involved will be asked to volunteer for the POC and will be asked to complete a ‘Line Plant Assessment’ briefing (ORWUG010) and CSS briefing. Those asked to volunteer will be fully UG skilled or will have completed their UG first look training (i.e. B2 or TMNE2 – higher pay point). On completion they will begin to receive survey tasks along with their normal allocation of work.

The CWU therefore would give the following advice to those asked to volunteer to carry out the new survey tasks and ask Branches to circulate this LTB to those impacted immediately:-

  • In order for the Proof of Concept to succeed the company will require circa 180 people to volunteer to carry out the new survey LPA tasks. To ensure that work continues to be carried out by the appropriately graded individuals at the correct rate of pay, the CWU would advise you NOT TO VOLUNTEER to complete the survey tasks as part of the POC.
  • Immediately contact your local Branch (use https://www.cwu.org/contact-us/ if you are not sure) if any pressure is placed on you to volunteer to take part in the POC.
  • Continue to carry out your role in line with the agreed job description.

At the same time a number of the current survey population will be asked to volunteer to populate a ‘virtual’ helpdesk. They will then be wholly office based providing support to those field members who have volunteered to complete the survey tasks. Branches should note that the current agreed grade for the Survey Officer role is C3 and that neither the agreed B2 nor TMNE2 job descriptions include carrying out survey tasks. The NT has written directly earlier today to all those impacted with similar advice to above and that communication is attached to this LTB.

The NT believes that the POC presents a threat to both the future of the Survey role and is a crude attempt to move higher graded work to those of a lower grade. The NT does not support the POC and have argued that the issues being faced by the company are entirely of their own making by allowing a number (circa 25) Survey Officers to leave the company using the leaver payment scheme earlier this year. Branches will note that that the Survey Officer role is in fact a field role but the company has sought to ignore that as, for organisational reasons, they have a ‘desk’ OUC and have allowed this population access to the leaver scheme(s). Branches will also see the contradiction with this approach and Career Pathways which seeks to create and enhance higher graded roles in the field as the transformation through automation, process changes, etc. take place in the desk environment. This approach by Service Delivery appears to be heading in completely the opposite direction.

The NT has sought safeguards on behalf of both populations, but to date the company has failed to agree to those. We have therefore issued the message to all survey officers and this LTB which we would ask Branches to circulate to their members ASAP.

The NT has a meeting with all Regional SPOCs today and this issue is on the agenda. Further updates will be issued to Branches in the coming days as this situation develops.