Bradford, England, May 18, 2023 - Employees at Morrisons' headquarters in Bradford have reacted with shock and concern after the supermarket provider agreed to a deal to transfer hundreds of jobs to an outside company.
Employees at Morrisons contacted the T&A following the transfer announcement of hundreds of contact centre jobs at Morrisons' HQ on Gain Lane to telecom services firm Webhelp.
The controversial move, which will impact more than 300 members of staff, comes amid "broader reviews" across the business after what was described as a "very challenging" 12 months. The supermarket provider was bought by private equity company Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in 2021.
Anna Lane, Customer Service Director at Morrisons, said: "After a very thorough selection process, we are very pleased to be going into partnership with Webhelp, who have an excellent reputation for delivering great levels of customer service."
"I'm delighted that there will not be a single redundancy in our customer contact centre associated with this move as all affected Morrisons colleagues are joining Webhelp UK under TUPE regulations."
Morrisons also said in a letter to employees that as part of the transfer "current pay rate and terms and conditions and length of service will be protected".
Some employees, however, reacted with dismay after the transfer was announced.
"Everybody is shocked and saddened by this announcement," said one employee who wanted to remain anonymous. "Such uncertainty for us all."
"Morrisons have pulled hundreds of staff - including long serving staff of five to 15 years - and informed them that they have (transferred) the whole contact centre to Webhelp with five weeks' notice.
"The treatment of all the staff has been shocking. It's disgusting."
Staff have also claimed that they were not given the option of redundancy, but they said they could resign.
Another person who wanted to remain anonymous told the T&A: "Hundreds of jobs in the contact centre at Hilmore House are being outsourced. Current employees will no longer be employed by Morrisons and will be now working for Webhelp.
"Employees were given no option for redundancy or asked if they would like to work for Webhelp."
In an official letter sent to employees, Morrisons explained why they are transferring job roles to Webhelp.
"I write in reference to the briefing on 17th May 2023 regarding the transfer of the Morrisons Contact Centre operation to Webhelp, who are a third-party supplier.
"Over the last few months, we have reviewed the contact centre operations. This review has taken place in the context of broader reviews across Morrisons.
"This has focused on improving how the contact centre operates and the desire to be more efficient for our colleagues and customers.
"As you will be aware, the last 12 months have been very challenging for our colleagues and customers and we want to continue improving how we do things at Morrisons.
"As part of our commitment to continuously improve the customer experience, we have been reviewing our current operating practices.
"We realise there’s an urgent need for investment in the technology available to run our contact centre efficiently and to the highest customer satisfaction.
"Therefore, we are proposing that we’ll move our contact centre to Webhelp. Webhelp are operational experts in this area and have the technical capability to help us transform the customer experience.
"We believe Webhelp can make changes faster and more efficiently than Morrisons. The proposed date that the contact centre will transfer to Webhelp is 4th July 2023."
In the letter, Morrisons also explained the proposed changes and implications the transfer would have for employees.
They said: "We can confirm that we have been in discussion and have reached an agreement with Webhelp.
"The proposed date of transfer is 4th July 2023 and this would mean that your employment would automatically transfer to Webhelp under the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations, better known as TUPE, from that date.
"In effect, you would become employed by Webhelp from the transfer date. You will transfer over on your current pay rate and terms and conditions, and your length of service will be protected.
"Along with Webhelp, we will be consulting with colleague representatives and you as individuals on the proposed transfer in further detail."
USDAW, the union which represents Morrisons workers, will be supporting the call centre employees.
A spokesperson for USDAW said: "Usdaw does not have a formal role in the consultation on the proposed transfer of call centre jobs at Morrisons' HQ to a third-party provider. We will be providing our members affected by the proposal with the support they need through this process."
In March this year, it emerged that Morrisons was reportedly planning to step back from its relationship with at least 83 property maintenance suppliers in favour of a move a to a single provider for repairs. With Morrisons being based in Bradford and a number of the contracts dating back many years, many of the companies affected were thought to be based in the Bradford district.
At the time, Morrisons said: "We are proposing some important changes and improvements to our maintenance model through a new national partnership with City FM, but we anticipate many of our existing suppliers to continue to work for Morrisons under subcontracting arrangements.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Friday, May 19, 2023
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