BT Fleet Contact Eric Brown

BT terms secured as Fleet TUPE triggers redundancies

BT 

Close tabs are being kept on an unfolding redundancy situation in BT Fleet that stems from the loss of a contract with Network Rail.

While the expiry of the Network Rail vehicle serving contract has had a small but manageable impact on work volumes across the garage network, the brunt of the contract loss is being felt in Milton Keynes where 20 CWU-represented grade employees currently administering the contract are based at Network Rail’s headquarters.

On account of a Network Rail re-tendering exercise, their work is moving from BT Fleet to Hitachi Capital, which intends to host the new admin operation in Trowbridge – 100 miles from where the work is currently conducted in Milton Keynes.

Assistant secretary Brendan O’Brien explains: “Although this is technically a TUPE situation, the ‘economic, technical and organisational’ reasons provided by the company at the start of the TUPE consultation means this is effectively a redundancy situation from day one for anyone who isn’t prepared to move with their work.

“At present just one person has expressed interest in doing so, with a couple more still pondering their options – but that means the rest of the group are facing redundancy when the TUPE becomes effective on April 1.

“From the outset the CWU has argued strenuously that BT redundancy terms should apply, and that is what we’ve achieved, even though they are effectively going to be made redundant as Hitachi Capital employees.”

In order to ensure the members’ rights are respected in full, the union’s own legal firm, Unionline, will be holding one-to-one sessions for all those affected today (Tuesday).

Brendan concludes: “This is obviously a sad and unwanted outcome for all those affected – but this has been a long time coming, as it is now more than a year since it became apparent that the Network Rail contract would not be renewed. The question our members had throughout was ‘where it would go?’

“The vehicle maintenance work has gradually migrated elsewhere, and Admin is the last bit of the contract to go, after a couple of three month extensions that were only ever going to be temporary.

“In a difficult situation the CWU has done all it can to support the members affected, with the Central Counties & Thames Valley Branch and the BT Fleet national team working intensively with our comrades in Milton Keynes to secure the best possible outcome.”

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