High level support for beleaguered Bury Capita workers

Telecoms & Financial Services

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has visited Capita’s Bury contact centre this morning (Friday) to support a campaign by CWU members to save jobs in the town.

The Labour Metro Mayor joined employees, trade unionists and residents opposed to the closure of the Radcliffe site at the second high profile day of protest organised by the CWU to highlight the devastating impact of the move on staff and the wider community alike.

The centre, which serves as a call centre for Tesco Mobile, has existed for over two decades and is a vital local employer.

However, it was announced last month that the site will be permanently closing its doors in September.

While Capita continues to deny the closure of the Bury contact centre constitutes a redundancy exercise, the CWU believes that scores of employees will be inevitably be placed ‘at risk’ under company’s proposals which include:

  • Unrealistic company attempts to insist that displaced employees can transfer to the company’s Preston Brook site – a full 70 mile round trip from Bury for which there are no good public transport links and a notoriously difficult journey by car, especially in peak times.
  • A 150 headcount reduction on the Capita Tesco Mobile (CTM) account (including managers) even after the workstream has been concentrated on Preston Brook
  • A stipulation that 75% of the remaining 431-strong workforce, most of whom are currently working at home, will be expected to return to the office post-Covid pandemic – making the prospects for displaced Bury workers even more precarious.
  • Capita’s insistence that, even where redeployment opportunities exist to other contracts within the Capita business that allow for homeworking, parity of pay, terms and conditions and role similarity cannot be guaranteed in all  redeployment scenarios

The CWU believes that these proposals are insulting and completely unrealistic. Counter-proposals tabled by the union include:

  • The company allowing  employees the opportunity to continue their Tesco Mobile role in a work from home capacity at current levels – not the diminished 25% proposed. The CWU has pointed out that homeworking has worked well for the vast majority of people during the pandemic, and there is no logical reason why it shouldn’t continue.
  • Capita securing a smaller alternative smaller site in Bury or the surrounding area to accommodate those workers who cannot commit to working from home permanently.

Speaking at today’s demonstration, Andy Burnham said: “This morning I’ve joined key workers from the Bury Capita Contact Centre, who are demonstrating against the decision to move and close the Tesco Mobile operation in Bury. 

“The staff impacted by this decision have built Tesco Mobile from the ground up. Throughout the pandemic, these people worked tirelessly to keep Britain connected.

“Their ‘reward’ has been a company decision to move them to a different call centre, in Runcorn, with an unmanageable journey and all of the extra expenses and time that this involves. 

“This has left many of these workers with little other options but to leave a job they’ve loved – in some cases, for two decades.

“This would be a massive loss to the local economy and a huge blow for the employees. 

“I would urge Capita and Tesco Mobile to work constructively with the CWU, the local council and myself to find a solution that benefits Tesco Mobile, the employees and the company, and which keeps the jobs in Bury.”

CWU North West Regional Secretary Carl Webb concludes: “We’re delighted to have Andy’s support on this campaign.

“To treat key workers like this, after well over a year of working through a global crisis, is astonishing.

“The CWU will stand firmly behind our members until a better proposal than what is currently being offered can be found.”