News on the NNC disputes in South Yorkshire and Northumbria CRCs relating to the Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy (EVR) terms
Despite recent announcements by some of the Sodexo owned CRCs, national discussions with Sodexo and the trade unions over the company's intentions to launch an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme (EVR) across their contract areas have taken place on a 'without prejudice' basis. The reason for this is that Napo must act in the best interests of all our members and we are therefore insisting that Sodexo respect and understand that the National Agreement on Staff Transfers and Protections must be the vehicle that governs any attempt by an employer to vary nationally agreed terms and conditions. This means that such issues must be discussed as part of the national collective bargaining machinery, in this instance the National Negotiating Council (NNC).
The protections contained in the National Agreement on Staff Transfers and Protections prior to the share sale were (and still are) underwritten by the Secretary of State for Justice. These were designed to prevent a ‘free for all’ situation developing on key industrial issues, such as the terms of the EVR scheme.
Where are we now?
The NNC Joint Secretaries have considered two disputes that were referred to them by the trade unions in South Yorkshire and Northumbria CRC. These followed attempts by the two CRCs to vary the nationally agreed EVR terms. The Joint Secretaries have now made a determination (as attached), which makes it clear that this should not have occurred. The NNC has agreed that upon receipt of a formal proposal to vary the EVR terms, urgent consideration will be given to creating a mechanism for further discussions to take place between the unions and the CRC's whilst at the same time providing an opportunity for the trade unions to urgently consult with their members.
Napo, along with Unison and GMB, believe that on the basis of the information provided by Sodexo, their proposals for an EVR scheme still requires further clarification before they can be issued to CRC staff. Work is currently ongoing to ensure that the requisite information will be available to members so that they can take an informed view of the situation. At the moment the unions believe that the EVR proposals fall well short of the terms available under the National Agreement, and the unions are also questioning the rationale and justification behind the proposed 600 job cuts across the Sodexo owned CRCs.
Napo and our sister trade unions fully appreciate the uncertainty that many members are facing about their future employment and the nature of the EVR offer that will be on the table. We have made it clear to all of the parties that we want to engage on this hugely important issue but such engagement can only take place under the auspices of the NNC.
The Joint Secretaries have now stated in their determination very clearly it is not open for a CRC to seek to amend an NNC national agreement at local level. This decision in relation to South Yorkshire and Northumbria applies equally to the four other Sodexo-owned CRCs, which are also covered by the NNC.
Napo, UNISON and GMB colleagues will be in further discussions with Sodexo tomorrow morning. We hope this discussion will lead to an agreed way forward in line with the attached NNC Joint Secretaries’ decision.
Branches and representatives are advised not to enter into negotiation on EVR with their CRC, and advice issued previously that members do not enter into any individual negotiation with their CRC in relation to redundancy terms remains in force.
Napo hopes that the parties will now enter into meaningful discussions and it is important that Napo members demonstrate their resolve, firstly by supporting your unions position that this issue is one that must be negotiated through the established National Collective Bargaining arrangements, and secondly that you make every effort to attend members workplace meetings on which more news will follow from your Napo reps.
More news will be issued at the earliest opportunity.