Recognition deal at GXO as BT’s outsourced supply chain partner goes for growth

A comprehensive new recognition agreement has been finalised with logistics giant GXO covering all of the former Supply Chain warehousing and transport operations that were outsourced by BT in May.

Crucially, the agreement enables the union to begin canvassing potential new members at the Midway Distribution Centre in Milton Keynes, where the union has never previously been recognised for collective bargaining purposes. That site is now set to be the centrepiece  of GXO’s  consumer operations under  plans which will also see significant new investment in Northallerton.

The CWU is shortly to progress with meeting employees at Midway, working together with management to extend recognition in the previously unrecognised area.

The Northallerton site, meanwhile, has long been a CWU stronghold and is now on course to become one of GXO’s key Engineering hubs, with significant amounts of new work scheduled to be transferred in from outside the BT contract.

That is expected to turbo-charge an agency conversion programme that is already underway– making significant inroads in the CWU’s long-term objective of addressing high agency ratios and maximising direct employment opportunities at the North Yorkshire facility.

Meanwhile, although  some roles will be affected at Northallerton by the shift of consumer work to the Midway Distribution Centre, GXO has advised that, following a review of outgoing work and incoming work, it believes that most, if not all, of those impacted can be absorbed in other work streams on account of the new work coming in.

National officer for GXO, Tracey Fussey explains: “While any far-reaching transformation programme of this nature is bound to be unnerving for some, there’s a real positivity about the way GXO is approaching this – and a sense that what we’re witnessing is the absolute opposite of the all too familiar picture of outsourcings leading to cost-cutting and decline.”

Apart from reaffirming the CWU’s right to collectively bargain on behalf of nearly 300 ex- Supply Chain staff impacted by the TUPE transfer, the formal signing of a new  and expanded recognition agreement  cements a  highly constructive dialogue that has been taking place between the union and management on multiples issues since May.

That began with GXO’s welcome agreement to conduct a root and branch review of its initial intention to relocate work conducted at Supply Chain’s Cardiff and Taunton sites to a GXO facility in Avonmouth – something the CWU had argued was impractical from the moment it was announced in the ‘TUPE measures’.

Positive talks are also underway on a grading review for HGV and van drivers which was technically initiated by Supply Chain in the face of acute pandemic and Brexit-related driver shortages, but not seriously started before the shock outsourcing announcement.

The CWU and GXO are together working towards the joint desire to have properly benchmarked pay rates – negating the need for a range of ongoing “temporary allowances” that Supply Chain rushed through in September 2021 to stem what was becoming a full-blown exodus of desperately needed drivers.

Tracey concludes: “While it’s fair to say that the CWU initially had deep concerns about an outsourcing that we still believe was unnecessary and ill-considered by BT, our relationship with GXO has got off to an excellent start.

“That is something we’re obviously looking to build on for the benefit of all our members in the company.”