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TUPE or not TUPE, that is not the question

BT replies to Computacenter article

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Computacenter and BT fall foul of TUPE?

Contrary to the claim in the article, BT has followed the requirements under TUPE.

An informal discussion about this work area took place between BT and senior union officials in the middle of last year and the option of becoming involved in a deal of this kind was never removed from our agenda.

At the end of September 2001, BT issued a 'commercially confidential' Invitation to Tender, for proposals to provide managed desktop services, currently being carried out internally within BT. A number of parties expressed interest and, following a review of proposals, an initial preferred supplier was identified late in December 2001.

BT met the unions, in advance of the announcement that we would be going ahead with the partnership with Computacenter, on 22 January 2002. The formal announcement was made on 30 January 2002.

The timing of our consultations with the unions in this case is consistent with our approach in previous exercises of this type, with early informal advice of the activities being considered for outsourcing followed by a widening of the interest group, including the unions, when a viable approach is developed and a partner identified.

In BT Retail, we firmly believe we are complying with all legislative requirements for the proposed transfer and will ensure we continue to do so despite the CWU’s current stance of balloting for industrial action. We have confirmed in writing to the unions that we will abide by Regulation 10 of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981, which places an obligation on employers to consult with the recognised trade unions long enough before transfer to enable meaningful consultation to take place.

We have set demanding timescales but have told the unions at our many meetings that we will not finalise the transfer until we have met our obligations under TUPE. We believe this can be best achieved through constructive dialogue and the removal of the CWU's threat of industrial action.

BT Retail values its relationship with the unions and our people and we have dealt constructively and successfully with the CWU on a number of TUPE transfers across the BT Group.

We are confident we will be in a position to meet all of our obligations under the legislation. We have now met the unions several times and have arranged a series of further meetings with the unions and Computacenter over the next few weeks in advance of the transfer.

In moving forward BT Retail's transformation activities, we will continue to have discussions and consultations with the unions on the people implications. The unions play a vital role and we will continue to have open discussions with them and seek to reach agreement in every way we can. ®

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