The patently unfair treatment
of an ever growing percentage of Openreach engineers who are being forced to
work for up to two hours a day for free has prompted the launch of a major new
"OUR HOURS" - which swung into gear last month with the launch of a petition
and an associated publicity drive to make sure the company
is left in no doubt as to the scale of employee anger - is demanding fair and
equal treatment of engineers on the vexed issue of travel to and from the first
and last jobs of the day.
Frustration at discrepancies in contracts that see some
engineers compensated for their travelling time, but others forced to give up to
ten hours a week for nothing, has been mounting since 2011 when the business
introduced the Mobile Workforce and put new recruits outside the existing
Parking at Home policy, with no agreed commute time.
Following CWU protests a 2012 agreement briefly resolved
the issue by extending that policy to cover those affected, but in September
that year Openreach reneged on the deal, introducing a 60-minute Personal Travel
Time (PTT) system for all new recruits.
"We've been battling ever since to try to get PTT
removed," stresses CWU national officer for Openreach, Davie Bowman - but
despite strenuous efforts the union was unable to prevent PTT being included in
Workforce 2020 contracts when they were introduced in 2014.
High levels of recruitment since then means thousands
of engineers are now affected, having to put in up to two hours of unpaid
personal travelling time a day on top of their contracted hours - either 36
hours, for those employed before September 2014, or 37.5 hours for those
Amid evidence suggesting that those on PTT are being
deliberately allocated further flung jobs that maximise the number of unpaid
hours Openreach receives from them, the company has blanked repeated CWU calls
for a rethink.
That's despite a 2015 European Court of Justice ruling
which means travel time spent by mobile workers getting to, and returning home
from, their first and last allocated jobs of the day is now legally deemed to
constitute "work" - therefore counting towards the 48-hour maximum allowed under
the EU's Working Time Directive (WTD).
The ECJ's so-called "Tyco" ruling means that an
ever-growing number of Openreach engineers are falling within a whisker of that
limit - even before overtime is taken into account.
"Openreach can't get away from the fact that if you
travel for an hour at the beginning and end of the working day, and work a 37.5
hour week, you're already up to 47.5 hours - just half an hour shy of the WTD
limit," Davie points out.
"The CWU's objective in launching the OUR HOURS campaign
is very clear indeed: We want fairness, equity, justice for all, and a cessation
of a situation where this terrible PTT commitment which is ruining many
of our members’ work-life balance is removed once and for all."