Urgent assurances demanded on job security across Capita’s VMO2 contract as yet more redundancies are announcedSeptember 1 2023
The third major redundancy announcement in less than two months involving CWU members working on Capita’s VMO2 contract has added new urgency to serious questions already being posed by the union and high profile politicians over both companies’ approach to organisational change and their commitment to UK workers.
On Thursday last week (August 31) 154 Capita employees working on the VMO2 ‘Out of Hours and Complaints Team’ became the latest group to be placed at risk of redundancy as a result of a reorganisation that will see ‘Out of Hours’ support for VMO2 customers offshored and ‘Formal Complaints Support’ brought back in-house by VMO2.
Despite the fact that VMO2 says it expects the latter work to be split across various internal teams spread over multiple UK locations, it has formally requested that Capita initiate a ‘pre-TUPE transfer redundancy consultation’.
That has prompted urgent CWU questions as to why a straightforward TUPE doesn’t apply – because ordinarily in ‘transfer of undertakings’ situations, where the work still exists and is remaining in the UK, impacted workers would generally transfer to the receiving employer with their jobs unless exceptional operational or organisational reasons apply.
The latest Capita job loss announcement– which impacts primarily on the company’s Dearne Valley and Leeds-based operations – follows two previous redundancy announcements within the VMO2 contract. Sadly it includes one Leeds-based team into which some ‘at risk’ members from the initial announcement were transferred as part of a redundancy mitigation redeployment exercise.
In total, there have now been 642 Capita VMO2 contract employees placed in scope for possible redundancy. The first batch of 265 – around 80% of whom are badged to the Leeds ABC Contact Centre – are now well into a redundancy consultation that has just been extended until September 15.
That group of workers currently conduct VMO2 contract work on the Small Office Home Office (SoHo), Small Medium Business (SMB) and Social Media workstreams which are transferring, at VMO2’s behest, to a different outsourcer which intends to conduct the work in the Philippines.
The second redundancy announcement, made less than a month later on August 3, placed 233 predominantly Leeds-based CWU represented grade employees working on VMO2’s Business-to-Business Customer Service workstream at risk under a reorganisation that will see just 128 roles survive – around 30 of which will be transferred to a Capita site in India.
In all three redundancy situations Capita is legally obliged to endeavour to minimise the effect of the proposals for as many employees as possible through redeployment – and the CWU has been actively pressing for full visibility of all such opportunities.
The union has also submitted detailed counter-proposals to Capita. These include the return of work currently conducted offshore by Capita to reduce or eliminate the need for redundancies in the UK; seeking a delay from the VMO2 client to allow more time for redeployment avenues to be property explored and the opening of a voluntary redundancy exercise across other accounts in Capita, to free up roles for ‘at risk’ individuals who wish to stay with the business.
“Due to the long service and loyalty provided our members we have specifically asked that a genuine and thorough review takes place with regards to the offshoring of work,” stresses CWU national officer Tracey Fussey.
“We are aware that the loss of jobs within the Capita VMO2 contract has become the focus of local politicians as members within their constituencies are affected.”
Two of the highest profile political interventions to date have come from Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves and former Labour Government Cabinet minister Hillary Benn – both Leeds MPs – who have written to both VMO2 and Capita expressing their concern.
That concern can only have been exacerbated by last Thursday’s announcement of further job losses and the short notice provided to the union.
“The CWU is deeply dissatisfied that we were only advised of the latest job losses less than 24 hours before the announcement,” Tracey stresses,
“Early and meaningful consultation would have been helpful given the seriousness of the situation, and we are also extremely concerned that redundancy notice has now been served to a team to which ‘at risk’ members were only redeployed to a short while ago.
“The CWU will additionally be seeking further detail with regards to what is being referred to as the ‘pre-TUPE transfer redundancy consultation’ – because we need to understand why this is not a straightforward TUPE situation allowing the transfer of impacted individuals to VMO2.”
“Above everything, however, we are concerned that this latest redundancy announcement has followed on so swiftly from the ones that came before.
“The continuing loss of work on the VMO2 contract is alarming – and our members deserve clarity and assurances regarding their future job security,” Tracey concludes.