Fighting for Technology TUPE members as wider stormclouds gather

Telecoms & Financial Services, Computacenter

Wednesday 17th March 2021

Some progress  has  been made in fraught negotiations on behalf of members of BT’s Digital Workplace Services (DWS)  team in advance of an impending outsourcing of their work which will see dozens TUPEd into certain redundancy in just a fortnight.

On April 1 the 86-strong DWS team will transfer to Computacenter as part of a cost-cutting IT reorganisation by Technology bosses – and on the very same day no fewer than 30 individuals will enter a formal redundancy consultation process.

These include all 27 members of Technology’s Leicester and Wolverhampton-based ‘Device Build/Swap’ team and four Enterprise employees carrying out similar laptop configuring and repair work. Although the roles they carry out will still exist post-TUPE, their work is scheduled to migrate to Computacenter’s Hatfield headquarters by July – well beyond any measure of reasonable travelling distance for the individuals affected.

53 ‘Greenshirts’, who conduct vital IT maintenance and repair work at every single BT and EE call centre, are also involved in the outsourcing  – though for these individuals the TUPE is a straightforward change of employer, as their work and work locations will remain unchanged post transfer.

Ever since the vigorously disputed IT outsourcing was announced in January the CWU has been meticulously working though a huge list of complex questions over contractual entitlements and potential detriments associated with the transfer process to ensure that members are afforded the full, albeit limited, protections afforded by TUPE law.

Those  discussions have finally secured an  agreement on TUPE terms of transfer that clarify the basis upon which  redundancy entitlements will be calculated for those who will be formally placed  ‘a risk’ as soon as they enter Computacenter employment on April  1 – coincidentally the BT annual pay review date.

National officer for BT Technology Sally Bridge explains: “From the outset of discussion we’ve been told that any rise the DWS members receive this year would be based on whatever settlement is finally arrived at in BT Group as a whole – but that always seemed irrational to us for a number of reasons. For a start, the individuals in question will already be Computacenter employees on the pay award due date.  More pertinently, however, given the wider dispute that is currently brewing with BT, and the fact that pay talks haven’t even begun, it’s looking inconceivable that any pay settlement will have been concluded  before the redundancies that Computacenter aims to have concluded within 12 weeks of the TUPE have taken place.

“That begs the question as to how on earth redundancy payout calculations  could possibly be calculated?”

“Faced with total intransigence from BT we’ve therefore gone direct to Computacenter to resolve the issue, doing a nine-month pay deal which provides all transferees with a 1% rise on April 1. That provides those facing redundancy with certainty as to how their payouts will be calculated, and brings the rest of the TUPE group into line with Computacenter pay calendar,  which runs from January 1 each year.”

Another CWU-brokered element of the terms of transfer include Computacenter’s agreement to pay all transferees a £30 per month supplement for the loss of their free BT Broadband so long as they remain working on the company’s BT contract.

All terms and conditions – including existing BT redundancy terms – transfer over unchanged, along with the provision of pension arrangements in the Computacenter defined contribution scheme which broadly replicate those currently held. (See Bulletin No.58/2021 for full details)


Wider woes…

The looming TUPE of BT Technology’s  DWS team to Computacenter comes at a time when the scale of the wider upheavals associated with the division’s site rationalisation strategy is just starting to hit home. (See story here)

Speaking in a special podcast that was released on Monday, CWU national officer for Technology, Sally Bridge, outlined the reasons why it is now imperative for CWU members across the division to stand shoulder to shoulder with members across BT Group in the face of an unprecedented management assault on  job security and hard won Ts&Cs.

“There’s  been a sea change in this company,” she warned. “BT’s now a ruthless  company that will drive though change regardless of what that means for individuals. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time they will move to displace you – and  I’m afraid that if you can’t find an alternative role under your own volition you will be made redundant. That’s something we simply have to fight.”