Over most of the last three months there have been many questions that we have been unable to answer much to your frustration and ours. Some questions remain unanswered because Rivus and /or Holman’s refusal to provide satisfactory answers and for some it may need to be a tribunal that provides answers to them.
We are conscious that almost all of you have been treated appallingly and that the settlement agreement that most of you have been offered does not meet the level of payment that, contractually, you and we believe you are entitled to.
Some of the questions that we have received indicates that some of you may still, quite understandably, be confused about exactly why this situation has come about.
To cut a very long story short, we and our legal advisors believe that the transfer of the BT contract from Rivus to Holman, is a service provision change under the TUPE regulations and therefore that your employment should transfer on the transfer date to Holman. We consider that case law supports this position. However, Holman have denied that there is a TUPE transfer in relation to the vast majority of staff and are therefore refusing to take all but a small selection of staff on.
To complicate matters, when BT Fleet was sold to Aurelius and subsequently became Rivus, we are aware that BT Group indemnified the company against redundancy costs that resulted from a subsequent TUPE transfer. However, Rivus and BT remain in dispute about the extent of that indemnity.
Previous briefings have outlined that, as Rivus employees, you fall into four groups of people and who pays redundancy for what groups is in some cases disputed. As a result, BT has refused to pay for all of the staff Rivus believe that they should have. BT also claim that those who they have accepted responsibility for, should have had notice served on them by Rivus earlier and are therefore not going to pay for PILON. Rivus say that these people were subject to TUPE under the regulations and it was therefore Holman’s job to serve notice on them.
This is what has resulted in offers of settlement that fall short of the full amount to which we and you believe you are entitled to.
Of the redundancy funds promised to Rivus by BT, we understand Rivus have split the payments to you into PILON and what is being called ‘compensation’.
None of this is of the CWU’s making and we have been aghast that you are being treated in the way that you have and we have consistently made our position clear to all parties.
Some of you therefore have been faced with the heart-wrenching choice of accepting a settlement agreement that you know denies you your contractual rights and also closes down access to a legal remedy, or refusing that agreement and being faced with the prospect of no payments now and a lengthy legal process with no guaranteed outcome. That decision can only be yours to make and we cannot offer guidance on it because your decision will depend on your personal circumstances.
We appreciate your frustration as to our inability to offer any further guidance, which is compounded by the way that BT, Rivus and Holman have approached the matter. You will understand that we cannot give advice on such things because we do not know your individual circumstances and while we believe we may know, we cannot guarantee what will happen should the settlement agreement remain unsigned and legal action be embarked upon.
We know that those of you that are now in-scope to transfer to Holman, the concern is the same as with any new employer and any TUPE situation. We have only recently received information on the measures which Holman envisage will apply to your terms and conditions and on the face of it there is not a great deal that is of immediate concern. We will however be contacting both Rivus and Holman to seek further clarification and will in due course be in contact with you.
Whatever happens post transfer the CWU is still here for you and will continue to consider all options to protect your interests. Do not hesitate to contact us on any issues of concern to you, once you get there. The same applies to all of our members.
For those of you remaining at Rivus we are still here and we are not going anywhere.
Finally, after one of the worst experiences of mistreatment I have seen our members have to suffer in well over 40 years as a union representative, I want to thank you all, especially those of you that have been patient and understanding during the complexities of the last few months. We continue to receive advice from our lawyers on the options that remain open to the union and we will continue to advise you of potential next steps.
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