Bargaining Unit Reports
NS&I service desk nearshore
The NS&I service desk has now been given a date in July for the nearshore to Poland. The move was affected by delays, but NS&I gave permission for the work to be nearshored to Poland. Staff from the service desk will move to CIC Durham initially with opportunities to move to back-office functions after initial training. This is quite a big transition for staff who have worked from home for over a year. Most have never operated in a customer facing role, but their wealth of NS&I experience should be of an advantage.
The company has said it will fully support staff working patterns which will be incorporated into CIC Durham.
Met Police—TUPE out to Capgemini
Part of the Met Police contract run by Atos is being TUPED to Capgemini with all work and staff to be transferred in July. All terms and conditions and measures have been put in place for the move. Some staff will face a possible redundancy situation if they cannot be redeployed within Capgemini. This is a worrying time for staff who have been thrown into this situation through no fault of their own.
As we know from our own TUPE transfers, new companies have their own ways of working which differ from our own and are sometime hard to adjust to. The one thing that is constant is PCS membership and that is transferable between employers meaning support is always available.
Service desks benchmarking
Members in the service desk will be aware that it is a long-standing objective of the PCS GEC to have the service desk work benchmarked. Benchmarking is a process undertaken to compare internal jobs and the job descriptions to similar jobs and descriptions externally, in a salary survey and using externally available data through a range of sources.
The last such exercise took place in service desks back in 2009, and hasn’t been carried out since, despite PCS pursuing this issue. We have now had several productive meetings with the business and HR, who are actively looking at this and hope to provide a response to us as soon as possible. It is worth reminding members that a benchmarking exercise does not always equal an increase in salary, but it is an important exercise to carry out, nonetheless. We will provide further information in a briefing as soon as we have it.
New PCS Group President in Atos
Alistair Maxwell is taking over from Kenny McKay as Glasgow Branch Chair and Atos Group President from 31 July.
“I joined NS&I in 1990 and in my 31 years as a member of first CPSA and then PCS I have never seen more challenging times for staff and trade unionists. Covid has made it difficult for everyone but the political climate is the strangest we have probably ever seen. Brexit has also heavily impacted members and we see prices rising almost daily and we want to try and get the best pay deal possible for staff when negotiations begin. In the workplace we would like to see more people getting active in the union, whether that is as a representative or just as an advocate for PCS.
You are the union the more people who are active the better. I look forward to working for you and with you.”
Throughout the pandemic the company’s approach has been supportive of employees working from home and the large majority have done so to date. During last summer when restrictions were starting to relax some workers returned to the office. This was on a voluntary basis with numbers relatively low. With the onset of the second wave in late autumn office-based work was again minimised.
With restrictions now continuing to ease the maximum allowed office capacity for the company’s UK head office in Cardiff has already been increased to around 50% of pre-pandemic levels. This 50% level is driven by the 2m social distancing adopted in Wales. The return to office-based work remains voluntary and with actual numbers in office currently around 25% of pre-pandemic levels.
The Welsh Government approach to relaxing restrictions has been commendably cautious. If conditions permit, a proposed move to a newly defined alert level zero will take place in August. The implications of this change in alert level will be discussed by union representatives with the company over the next few weeks. However, given that the Wales alert level zero still contains the advice for people to continue to work from home wherever possible our expectation is that any return to office-based work will remain voluntary for the time being.
Post-pandemic the company is planning to adopt a hybrid working pattern. The group wide framework for this will allow up to 40% of working days to be worked from home. The detailed arrangements for hybrid working at Atradius will be discussed and agreed at a country level over the next few months. Our union representatives are keen to ensure that a flexible and pragmatic approach is adopted by both employees and the company towards hybrid working arrangements.
During the pandemic our members have demonstrated that they can work effectively from home however it will take a little time for good hybrid working practices to become established. Going forward our objective remains for hybrid working patterns to be limited only by the clearly demonstrated needs of the business.
BOEING DEFENCE UK
The 3-year pay agreement will end this year and around November of this year we will start negotiations which will take place over a few months and then with agreement of members come to a conclusion. Members will be asked if it is to be a one year or three-year deal, we seek. It has shown that the last three-year deal proved good, as even with the pandemic the agreed deal was upheld for the TUPE members.
Return to work after pandemic
Since the pandemic and the current unsure situation with returning to work or the alternatives. The union currently talking with the government about the way forward. This is in a confused state at present, but hopefully some clarity will be provided by all parties in the near future.
Also having seen an announcement regarding positive cases of covid rising again it would still seem to be a bit confusing.
BDUK has been following the government guidelines throughout the pandemic and plan to continue to do this.
A few personal cases have been happening and some have recently drawn to a conclusion and some still remain active.
The company maintains the pensions agreement with the union.
Company offers members the option to change to their terms and conditions which accrues different salary. Members are advised that the loss of their TUPE terms and conditions cannot be a good trade. As a non-TUPE member they would stand alone but as a member of the union they get the full support of the union in whatever area they need them.
Pay negotiations for 2020-21 on behalf of collectively bargained members on the HMRC account have concluded with a settlement worth 2% or more for most members and importantly, 100% coverage across the bargaining unit. The offer was accepted by 96% of members who voted and is due for payment in July.
Covid-19 and after
Over recent months, PCS reps have been in consultation with the company at UK and local (HMRC MU) levels over proposals for a ‘New Normal’ way of working post-Covid. We feel that the proposals for a more flexible mix of home and office working will be beneficial to members and are so far being handled well. However, we know that as lockdown measures are lifted and while Covid-19 is still a significant presence, many members are concerned about the transition from working 100% at home, so we are consulting with HR and health and sefety managers on the HMRC MU to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of members is fully considered ahead of any changes. If any member has a concern that isn’t covered in the info which the company is providing, please contact your local rep.
HMRC technology sourcing programme (TSP)
A number of IT contracts with HMRC across several suppliers including Capgemini are due to come to an end in 2022, and the likely outcome of the retendering processes (for all suppliers) is that some work will be lost and other work won. Until we know HMRC’s decisions there’s a limit on what can be done, but we have spoken with senior management to say that our key priorities in all eventualities will be the protection of members’ jobs, terms and conditions and location of work.
The Fujitsu GEC have been having some challenges of late, with Fujitsu’s management. We feel that the company hiring a legal counsel to sign off any changes, and then quickly seeing that team expand, is a demonstration of the relationship the company wants with both PCS and its staff.
Recent issues that reps have been heavily involved in include.
- The use of fire and rehire threat as a method to kick a sizeable group of members off their pension schemes, and onto a far more inferior one.
- Failure to honour a part of last year’s pay settlement.
- The use of fire and rehire to remove a fuel card benefit from members.
- Bringing in external legal advice in an attempt to back out of having to pay pensionable elements, into a company comparable pension scheme.
- A number of small to medium redundancy exercises, impacting members.
- Reduction in wide down benefits.
- A pension department that does not follow its own deadlines.
In an attempt to get our voices heard, we engaged directly with Fujitsu in Japan, around if they considered ‘Fire and rehire’ a breach of the ‘Fujitsu Way’, which is a set of ethics all employees should work to. This letter was shared with members but to date the company has not responded.
Financially the company has done reasonably well despite Covid, and actually exceeded its revised profit targets, which has meant reasonable bonuses were paid, but of course these were non-consolidated, and the managers would have taken the lion’s share of the pay-out. One of the many frustrating issues is that Fujitsu did offer a week’s extra holiday during Covid, for those with caring responsibilities. However, this was not widely used by members, but this has not stopped the company bringing this up frequently as a demonstration what a caring company it is, despite all the actions it has taken listed above.
On a recent live call to managers, the company HR VP announced, after being pushed by a PCS question, again stated that this year there would not be any cost-of-living increase for regular staff, which would make it the third year without an increase. However, in a subsequent meeting with PCS, this VP did announce a start of pay talks with PCS in August (awarded in October), which we hope will lead to a salary increase for members. It did sound like our unanswered letter to Japan did potentially have an impact, as it was commented on, several times on the call.
We are hoping that this call might reset out relationship with the company, but this remains to be seen. Management seems focused on checking under the cushions for any loose change, which can only impacted members.
We hope that a pay increase will again give the reps an opportunity to recruit more new members, especially where there is still a large untapped mass working on government contracts, of which you only need to be working on, for more than 50% of your time, to be included in the CBU.