Unions go back to the Minister over Sodexo fiasco
As we reported to yesterday’s meeting of Sodexo Representatives, we have experienced yet another fruitless week at the coalface in which we held nearly two full days of talks with senior Sodexo management about the voluntary redundancy scheme following a directive by the NNC Joint Secretaries to get back around the table.
These talks followed the receipt of the letter from Michael Gove which we published earlier this week. This upheld the view that Michael Spurr provided some months back that any redundancies announced by Sodexo should attract the Enhanced Early Retirement terms (EVR) as per the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement. This view was supported by those Napo and Unison members taking part in the recent indicative ballot who confirmed our view that this was an unacceptable position for the unions.
The blanket refusal to negotiate by this most intransigent company (right up there in my view as about the worst I have experienced and that is saying something) is at times staggering. The Sodexo approach is to have a scripted double answer for nearly every scenario with the bottom line being that EVR is unaffordable and that paying the full amount would merely hasten the onset of compulsory redundancies.
The story so far in short
Sodexo have presented as an unscrupulous organisation who have not entertained any meaningful negotiation with the unions and shown no latitude whatsoever in our exchanges. They have not only changed their approach at the 11th hour in terms of what it is they were actually offering, but have pressed ahead with an unrealistic timetable without members having all the facts available. On the critical issue for staff aged over 55, it is only this morning that Sodexo have accepted that they were wrong on the pension issue and they have now changed their position.
We now know that around 600 staff have indicated an interest in the offer from Sodexo and that there are around 410 departure slots available. On this basis we have suggested that Sodexo could restore some good will and offer a degree of certainty for the remaining workforce by offering a No Compulsory Redundancy Agreement but they are having none of it at this stage.
Our estimate based on feedback from your reps is that between 100 -150 Napo members will leave the six Sodexo CRCs. As you would expect we have put in place all the processes for members who wish to accept what is on offer to access advice from the Thompsons Settlement Service before they sign their settlement agreements. Given the way in which Sodexo have demonstrated their disdain and disrespect for CRC staff, now is a pretty good time to sign up to Napo if you have not done so already. There is no doubt that they won’t stop here.
Even though the negotiations have taken us up a cul-de-sac, the Michael Gove letter indicates that he has some sympathy for the Unions position. In light of this we must explore this avenue to its conclusion and see if the Justice Secretary is willing to intervene in this Sodexo inspired shambles. We are doing (and will continue to do) all that we can to exert more pressure on Sodexo to honour their contractual obligations. My contact with the Ministers Private Office yesterday indicates that the unions follow up letter seeking a meeting with the Minister and Sodexo is already being considered at a senior level within NOMS, so that the Minister can be briefed when he returns to his office next week. I will arrange for further news on developments to be issued as soon as I can.
Our focus on the Sodexo issues has been resource intensive and has stretched us thin at times over these last few weeks, but I can assure you that important work on a range of other issues is ongoing and I hope to be better placed to report on these over the course off next week.
Have you voted in the National Officer Elections yet?
If not there is still time to grab that envelope from the unopened pile or the one that you were going to look at tomorrow as far back as a week or two ago (yes we all have one of those).
The candidates for the vacant National Vice-Chair posts are:
The candidates for the vacant National Vice-Chair post with Finance responsibility are:
As always I am asking Napo members to consider taking part in the ballot and to recognise that all the candidates are offering to commit a great deal of time and effort in helping to promote your interests. I have always believed that Napo is a reflection of its membership and that our open and democratic structures (which include elections) are there to be used.
Enjoy the Summer(?) bank holiday.