The controversial issue of outsourcing has again come under scrutiny, with reseller giant Computacenter facing claims for unfair dismissal.
Former employees of reseller SCC are taking Computacenter to an employment tribunal under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Tupe) regulations.
Computacenter took over an outsourcing deal with a major high street bank from SCC. Under Tupe regulations, workers affected by outsourcing are guaranteed jobs and the same terms and conditions by new employers.
But Roland Astin, formerly an outsourced support worker for IBM hardware at Lloyds TSB in Andover, told vnunet.com: "Computacenter is claiming Tupe does not apply in this case."
Computacenter would not comment on the claims, while former employer SCC was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
Tim Way, European director of Human Resources at Computacenter, said: "Out of respect for the privacy of [our] staff, [we] do not discuss any matters concerning the relationships with individual employees."
A total of seven workers who worked on the contract could be affected.
Two workers already have dates for tribunal hearings; three are waiting for dates and two more are considering their futures, according to Nigel Swanton, former service delivery manager on the contract.
The case highlights the considerations that must be addressed by resellers involved in outsourcing. Employment rights are an important concern for any company involved in outsourcing, and resellers are no exception.
Earlier this year a group of 10 former employees of reseller Logical successfully settled out of court with Sun Microsystems when it refused to employ them under Tupe after its acquisition of an outsourcing deal.
Mike Norris, chief executive at Computacenter and self-proclaimed supporter of Tupe, was unavailable for comment, but has in the past acknowledged the difficulties associated with Tupe rules.
When commenting on a deal involving the transfer of more than 300 BT workers to Computacenter early in 2002, he said the customer had a responsibility to factor the cost of employee benefits into a deal.
"The outsourcing company is unlikely to be able to match everything," he said. A compromise was reached following drawn out negotiations involving the Communications Workers Union, BT and Computacenter.
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