Labour announcement on full fibre broadband
As you will have seen, yesterday evening Labour announced a major policy to invest in and roll out a publicly owned full fibre broadband network to every address across the country within a decade. They would do this by taking the relevant parts of BT into public ownership – a longstanding policy of the CWU that has been reaffirmed by our annual conference on many occasions – and would offer a free fibre broadband service to every home and business, funded through a tax on the big tech multinationals.
This is a significant announcement which would deliver major benefits for CWU members working in the industry if Labour is elected and we have been working closely with Labour to shape the proposals in recent weeks. In terms of detail, Labour would bring Openreach and other parts of BT that are relevant to broadband – including parts of BT Technology, BT Consumer and BT Enterprise – into public ownership to form a new public body, British Broadband.
We have secured a number of important commitments for our members who would be affected by this:
- they would TUPE over with a guarantee on all terms and conditions;
- all pensions would be safeguarded or improved, with a commitment to maintain the Crown guarantee on the BTPS;
- the use of agency work to undercut permanent staff would end, with contracted workers being insourced;
- health and safety standards would be improved through engagement with frontline staff;
- our existing industrial agreements would be honoured, meaning the threat of compulsory redundancy would be removed;
- collective bargaining would be at the heart of decision-making and we would make positive harmonisation of terms and conditions a priority;
- employee shareholdings would be dealt with under TUPE and no-one will be worse off; and
- there would be massive investment in the organisation with profits being kept and re-invested in it.
If Labour is elected we would be sitting down with it as the new government to work out and shape the final details but the above pledges we have already secured are significant wins for our members and demonstrate how the proposals would deliver for them.
For CWU members in other operators such as Virgin we are also working with Labour to ensure that jobs in the industry as a whole are protected and we believe the final plans will benefit all telecoms workers. For our members in parts of BT like EE that are not directly covered by the plans, we would continue to work to protect and enhance their terms and conditions, and we believe the wider impact of the proposals will be to raise the floor across the industry.
It is clear that the policy from Labour is hugely ambitious and it would have major economic benefits for the country. It would also deliver for individuals and businesses across the UK by offering a free full fibre service and puts broadband at the heart of the debate about public service provision and the way businesses and the economy are run.
We will be issuing more detailed communications to members later today and holding a Live Facebook Q&A on this on the CWU Facebook page on Tuesday 19th November at 6pm. Any queries on the contents of this LTB should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Dave Ward – General Secretary
Andy Kerr – Deputy General Secretary T&FS