19th January 2021 – New redundancy bombshell for Technology and Enterprise members following ‘bizarre and shambolic’ IT outsourcing announcement.
It’s been a torrid day for members of BT’s Digital Workplace Services Team with the disconcerting announcement of an imminent TUPE transfer to a new employer being followed up with the devastating news that the move will place some at immediate risk of compulsory redundancy.
The staggered drip-feed of bad tidings commenced at 10am this morning (Tuesday) when all 86 team members of the Digital Workplace Services Team learned, in an ‘all hands’ online video call, that they are in scope for TUPE transfer to Computacenter on April 1.
For many of the team – some of whom have experienced no fewer than three previous TUPE upheavals at the behest of BT in a circular journey that began with their initial outsourcing, ironically to Computacenter, in 2002 – the news had an unpleasant sense of déjà vu, tempered by their previous experience of continuity of employment in TUPE situations.
A bad day was about to get a whole load worse for more than a third of the group, however…
In follow-up breakout sessions no fewer than 33 of the team member grade employees impacted received the time-delayed bombshell that they will be placed ‘at risk’ of redundancy on day one of their Computacenter employment.
The CWU is particularly concerned about the fate of all 27 members of Technology’s Leicester and Wolverhampton-based ‘Device Build/Swap’ team and two Enterprise employees carrying out similar laptop configuring and repair work at the Leicester site. That’s because, after a short ‘grace’ period that will last for a maximum of three months following their transfer to Computacenter, their work will be transferred to Computacenter’s Hatfield headquarters some 90 miles away.
The union is also urgently seeking confirmation of the impact on four other members of the Enterprise ‘Break Fix/ Swap’ team, two of whom are based in Adastral Park, one in BT Centre and one in a separate workshop, though at present it is believed that their work may not be affected.
Despite understandable anxieties about the impending TUPE, the job continuity of the 53 impacted individuals known as‘Greenshirts’, who conduct vital IT maintenance and repair work at every single BT and EE call centre, is not believed to be in danger.
But with voluntary redundancy on BT terms now being offered to every single one of the Computacenter transferees – not just those whose work will be moving to Hatfield – there is a grim sense of foreboding that the outsourcing appears to be predicated first and foremost on cost-cutting.
CWU national officer for BT Technology Sally Bridge explains: “From the outset this outsourcing plan has been bizarre and shambolic. We have challenged the rationale that has been provided by the business as to why they’re doing it and why any changes to simplify processes and increase efficiency in line with the ‘transformation’ agenda couldn’t have been delivered in-house by a team that management has already conceded is first rate.”
Suspicions about the true motive are fuelled by the cost-cutting and outsourcing-obsessed approach already witnessed in Technology’s IT division, including November’s announcement that nine roles would be ‘ceased’ by the end of March as a result of a cost-cutting decision to outsource Contact Centre Evolution ‘Application Support Group’ work to third party supplier Cognizant, who are known to offshore work to India,
That outrage was preceded by the redundancy, in December, of all 12 UK-based team members of the User Access Management (UAM) Team as a direct result of the decision to send their work to Bangalore. In that instance the union was told, with breathtaking candour, there was no point in attempting to challenge the rationale for the decision, because the D1 and C3 roles – commanding salaries in the region of £40,000- in the UK – could be conducted for just £5,000 on the Indian sub-continent.
Sally continues: “This is an area in Technology where the business continues to outsource and offshore , but what makes this latest outsourcing announcement even more bizarre is that just last week BT CEO Philip Jansen announced the splitting of Technology into two distinct areas, with appointment of Harmeen Mehta as the new Digital and Innovation Officer to lead the new Digital Unit, reporting direct to him.
“It seems astonishing that such an important decision about the future delivery of IT services across BT Group is has been presented to employees as an ill-explained ‘fait accompli’ just prior to the arrival of the person who is intended to be BT’s new digital guru.
“While the CWU’s main focus now will be on supporting members through the TUPE and ‘expression of interest’ processes, and the redundancy consultation that will follow – we’ll certainly be demanding answers as to why this outsourcing appears to be being rushed through just before Harmeen Mehta takes up post on April 1.”
- Urgent arrangements for a special online members’ meeting are currently being set in place. Individuals impacted by today’s announcement will be emailed log-in details shortly.