Your union in a redundancy process March 3, 2011Posted by alancwu in News.
If a redundancy process is properly handled, if staff are happy with the business rationale for the changes, if the selection criteria are fair and equal, if the communication process is sensitively and effectively handled and the affected individuals are comfortable with their selection then the answer is – not very much!
But it is rarely the case that all of the above apply – and this is area where your trade union can provide crucial support – in scrutinising the process, and supporting members in seeking redress if the process is flawed (either intentionally or unintentionally).
It is not uncommon for mistakes to be made in a redundancy process and your trade union – with the resources available at branch, regional and national level, with trained and independent reps, vast experience of similar processes, with employment law specialists and related support services – can help you assess whether or not you have been fairly treated. The CWU is yours – it is there to support you. Talk Talk as a company has access to resources that, as an individual employee, you do not – but as a CWU member you do. The CWU evens things up.
Only last year, and in Talk Talk, a group of CWU members who felt they had not been fairly treated took on the company with the support of the CWU at a branch and national level. While they were still made redundant they were able to negotiate significantly improved redundancy packages, compensation for what they saw as a flawed process.
It is in this area – the level of individual consultation – that the benefits of being a member are most obvious. You can take a CWU rep into your individual consultations for support and advice. But additionally, if you feel that you have not been fairly treated your CWU rep can advise you if you have a realistic chance of challenging that decision – and helping you to get access to the expert advice and support you need to be able to challenge it effectively.
It is more complex at the group consultative level. Talk Talk, like most big companies and as you know, has an employee consultative forum. While many employee forums do a great job, and most employee forum reps are genuinely committed to supporting their colleagues, it is still at base a management tool. Awkward questions can get closed down or subtly avoided – and there is no negotiation, the company is under no compunction to act on your concerns as long as it can demonstrate it has listened to those concerns. An employee forum can often be a box ticking exercise – and, in this current process, only you can be the judge on whether or not your forum is effective.
Crucially – if you want your forum to be effective you have to be active in the process. You have to start acting like a trade union in your workplace – you have to make your voice heard. Speak to each other, coordinate your responses. It is all too easy to be passive and just let it happen to you. Speak to your CWU reps, insist that your employee reps ask the awkward questions and ask them again if they’re not answered. If there is an issue that you think needs some expert scrutiny – get in touch with your site CWU rep, or your branch.
And join the CWU – we can put you in touch with other members at your site, with your reps and your branches and we can support you in challenging the process where it needs to be challenged.
For an example of what a properly handled redundancy process should look like go here: http://www.acas.org.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=877&p=0
If you don’t know whether or not there is a CWU rep at your site contact your CWU Organiser: Alan Smith – 07894 461710 – email@example.com
Your local branch’s contact details can be found here: http://www.cwu.org/cwu-branches.html