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Engineers in the CWU are on strike today at Openreach to defend the integrity of their roles — here's why you should support them

CWU assistant secretary DAVIE BOWMAN explains how the grade of repayment project engineers is being attacked, meaning worse pay and conditions for most

THIS is a pivotal moment for CWU members employed as Repayment Project Engineers (RPEs) in Openreach Ltd. 

This dispute has been in the offing for a number of months and the intransigence of the company has led us to this position. 

The grade of the role they carry out is being attacked and moved into the managerial structure where performance-related pay and bonus incentives rule the day. 

For the vast majority it would also mean worse terms and conditions including increased hours of work, less annual leave and much worse sick pay arrangements. Our members fundamentally believe that this move compromises the integrity of the role and the service to the customer by driving inappropriate behaviours linked to revenue generation.
In reality this is in many ways a selfless dispute, as at the core of the 170 members’ minds is the future for their many colleagues who may aspire to carry out this role in the years to come. 

Ensuring that the role remains as a team member grade and is not sullied by the potential conflicts of interest that will result by the change. 

These workers have absolutely driven the dispute from the start, making clear to the union’s leadership both the direction and policy that should be pursued. They may be located from one end of the country to the other but they are tight knit, determined and overwhelmingly willing to fight. 

A statutory ballot result that delivered a 94 per cent turnout with 86 per cent voting Yes for strike action must tell the story all on its own. The Tories can place hurdles in the way of workers but when the workers unite and battle against anti trade union legislation they can and will win.
Some may argue the odds are against them because they are battling a multinational company that “recognises the strength of feeling and passion they feel but believes that our members are wrong.” 

These workers need all your support in the days and weeks ahead as the 170 of them take part in the initial days of strike action. 

Every text message, tweet, Facebook share or any other personal or social media support you can give them would be really welcomed by our members. 

They agreed at the very start that if they stuck together, fought together they could win together. With all your support that is an objective you can help them meet.


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