CWU welcomes VMO2 moves to address cost of living crisisTelecoms & Financial Services, Virgin Media, VMO2 September 14 2022
Following constructive talks with VMO2, a major breakthrough on pay has been achieved.
During the six months since the company unilaterally imposed a below inflation two-year package the union has continued to push bosses for additional financial support to address the ever-deepening cost of living crisis being experienced by employees.
From the outset the CWU has argued that, set against spiralling inflation, the unagreed March settlement represented significant real-term pay cuts for loyal staff members that were simply unacceptable, especially at a time when VMO2 was increasing mobile airtime tariffs by an average of 8.8%.
In April no fewer than 95.7% of members participating in a consultative ballot rejected the imposed pay rise– and in May, VMO2 agreed to participate in further discussions regarding support for members against the backdrop of spiralling inflation.
A joint statement was issued by management and the union acknowledging ‘the difficulties and pressures that the rising cost of living is causing for many’ – with both parties ‘committing to work together in partnership and continuing the conversation…to find the right outcome.’
Those talks have just culminated in a new company offer which, significantly, applies well beyond the ex-Telefonica bargaining unit in which the CWU is recognised for collective bargaining purposes. In fact, a total around 8,000 employees across VMO2 will benefit from the package, including many CWU members who sit in unrecognised parts of the company
CWU national officer for the recognised ex-Telefonica bargaining unit that now sits within the wider VMO2 organisation, Tracey Fussey, explains: “I’m pleased VMO2 has now placed an offer on the table that the national negotiating team feels able to recommend to members in a consultative ballot which will commence a week today on Wednesday September 21.
“Under management’s revised proposal, the inadequate 2% increase VMO2 had formerly intended to impose in 2023 becomes the starting point for genuine talks on next year’s pay round.
“Crucially, however the new management offer sees new lump sum payments – known as a ‘Cost of Living Allowance’ – over and above the unagreed consolidated March settlement being paid to ALL employees under 35K full time equivalent (FTE) base salary.”
Full details of the proposed settlement have been briefed to members – but, in summary, the staged lump sum payments mean most members will have received an overall rise (in cash terms) equating to up to 10% of their salary, dependent on their grade, this year.
Members in O2 stores fare even better because, added to the 10% increase they received in January as part of a negotiated absorption of unpredictable target-driven bonus payments into base pay, the lump sum payments brings their overall pay increase for 2022 in cash terms to around 17%.
Tracey continues: “Ultimately this is a case where a company has listened to legitimate employee concerns about the spiralling cost of living, re-engaged in positive negotiations with the CWU and done the right thing by its employees.
“VMO2 deserves genuine credit for listening to the financial concerns of its workforce, articulated through our representations, but it is also worth remembering that, from the very outset, it has been the CWU that has championed the need for a rethink.
“Our VMO2 national team unequivocally urges all our ex-Telefonica O2 members to vote ‘yes’ in the forthcoming ballot,” she concludes.
- A special online mass meeting for members across VMO2 will take place this evening at which the deal on the table, and the CWU’s pivotal role in bringing it about, will be discussed in detail. Zoom details have been emailed to all relevant members.