Redundancy Support goes online due Covid restrictions

Redundancy support is a difficult situation in the best of times, but during the present Covid pandemic it is even more challenging for unions supporting workers – so when Greggs contacted the Learning Services Team from the BFAWU, Project Workers had to think outside the box.

bakery factory

Carol Hillaby, a Project Worker from BFAWU Learning Services, was contacted by Karen Walker, Senior Supplies People Manager from Greggs, asking for help as 15 people were being made redundant at the Birmingham bakery.

Carol had worked with Karen before on learning/redundancy projects and assured her the union would help – however they would have to do things differently this time.

Carol explained:

We were invited to attend a meeting but our Project Manager, Lisa Greenfield, didn’t want myself and my fellow Project Worker Karen Plasom travelling due to Covid. So we decided to do this remotely.”

Carol quickly got to work, first going onto the Money Matters website and ordered 20 Redundancy Handbooks and had them delivered to the site.

Carol said:

These books are brilliant for supporting anything to do with redundancy: Knowing your rights; Making the most of your money; and Moving Forward.”

She then put together a list of questions to be answered so the Project Workers could begin to write CV’s for the staff effected and sent it to Sam Robinson, People Manager for the Birmingham site, as she was dealing with this at site level.

Sam was carrying out individual Interview Skills with the people. Carol has experience supporting members facing redundancy and sent Sam a PowerPoint presentation that she had put together with Lucy Martins, HR Greggs Enfield, for earlier redundancies at the North London site.

The process is going on until October, but already Project Workers Carol and Karen have had six people sending back completed questionnaires so they can write up their CVs, and they expect they may have more.

Carol says

The first thing we do is text the person to let them know who we are and then email them, so now they have our phone number and email address and we assure them that they can call any time to discuss things and we can now ask any questions that they haven’t addressed”.

Carol has also been making use of resources from unionlearn, as she explained:

If I was sitting with the workers I would ask them to complete the unionlearn SkillCheck on their English and Maths so their levels can be added this to their CVs as employers like to see that employees are at a level they need.”

We enrolled them on this and sent them the web address, username and password and encouraged them to do it.”

Once we have completed the CV we send and ask them to read it carefully and to come back with any changes, if we don’t hear back then we send another email wishing them luck with their future.”

Carol has been working on the CV’s and said:

One guy came back to me who had completed his SkillCheck and I added this to his CV. He also came back with a long list of in-house training which I couldn’t fit on the CV, and still keep it at two pages, so on the CV I put ‘in-house training – various (see attached page) and put it all on a separate page and said that he could take this to interviews as a handout.”

He was really happy with his CV and emailed Carol back saying:

Thank you, appreciate your help and work on CV you’ve created. I just hope the rest of the VR team follow suit. The CV is of an excellent standard.”

Carol and Karen are continuing to work supporting the remaining members at Greggs facing redundancy at the moment.

Karen Walker also sent Carol an email saying:

Thank you for your support with our VR leavers, they all felt it was a really worthwhile session and it worked well”.