Telefonica/VM02 – Successful Pay Ballot Secures Offer of New Talks.

20th May 2022 – The steely resolve of the CWU to ballot for industrial action unless VMO2 improves on a “paltry and insulting” imposed pay settlement that represents significant real-term salary cuts over the next two years has secured the belated offer of new talks by management.

The company’s move, which the union hopes implies a readiness on the part of bosses to meaningfully reconsider the imposition of unagreed pay rises totalling just 3% pay rise this year and 2% in 2023, follows an unprecedented outpouring of anger amongst members who are already struggling with the cost of living crisis and acutely aware that inflation is projected to top 10% by the end of the year.

Hot on the heels of last month’s consultative ballot result – in which a staggering 95.7% of participants (on a 72.5% turnout) signalled their outright rejection of the imposed settlement – the CWU wrote to VMO2 on April 20 detailing the ballot outcome and inviting the company to re-open discussions on pay.

Following a week’s radio silence from the company, CWU Annual Conference in Bournemouth delivered a further demonstration of the union’s resolve on the issue, with delegates issuing a stark ultimatum to bosses.

CWU national officer Tracey Fussey explains: “Given the ballot outcome and the phenomenally high level of correspondence from VMO2 members with regards to the imposed settlement, the CWU Executive took the extraordinary step of taking an Emergency Motion to Conference seeking endorsement for a statutory industrial action ballot if a negotiated pay deal is not achieved.

“That Emergency Motion was debated and unanimously agreed by delegates, following which the CWU wrote again to VM02 on April 27 advising them of Conference’s decision and, once again, inviting them to reopen pay talks.

“I’m pleased to say that, late last week, we finally received confirmation from VM02 that they are willing to meet with ourselves to discuss our concerns and have committed to hold a further initial meeting.

“The CWU welcomes this development, as it has always been our preferred position to maintain an ongoing and constructive dialogue with VMO2 – though I have to caution that real movement is required from the company to avert what could easily become a full-blown dispute.”

13th May 2022 – Following the outcome of the consultative ballot on pay which has resulted in overwhelming support of the CWU National Team’s position, rejecting the offer of 3% for 2022 and 2% for 2023. The CWU wrote to VMO2 on 20th April 2022 detailing the outcome of the ballot and inviting the company to reopen discussions on pay.
Given the ballot outcome and the phenomenally high level of correspondence from VMO2
members with regard to the imposed settlement, the CWU Executive took the extraordinary
step of taking an emergency motion to CWU Annual Conference in April seeking endorsement
for a Statutory Industrial Action Ballot if a negotiated pay deal is not achieved.
The emergency motion was debated and unanimously agreed by conference.
Following the close of conference, the CWU wrote to VMO2 on 27 April 2022 advising them of conference’s endorsement and once again inviting them to reopen pay talks.
The CWU have reiterated that we are keen to maintain ongoing and constructive dialogue
with VMO2, this being our preferred position.
The CWU does not believe the imposed offer is fair given the ever increasing financial
challenge brought upon our members due the cost of living crisis, a situation which has only
worsened since the offer was implemented. We are further extremely concerned at the
burden the 2023 2% imposition will bring upon our members next year, with costs
continuing to rise.
Following this, VMO2 has confirmed their desire to meet with ourselves to discuss our concerns and have committed to hold an initial further meeting which will be scheduled in the next few weeks.
The CWU welcome this development.
The National Team thank all members for their continued support and will keep you updated
with regard to the outcome of the talks.

31st March 2022 – Thousands of members begin a consultative e-poll called by the union to assess their views on the sub-inflation pay deal imposed by the business.

“It’s vitally important that as many eligible members as possible cast their vote and register their views,” said CWU assistant secretary Tracey Fussey this afternoon, as the big nationwide consultation opened.

“What’s happened here is that this hugely profitable company has imposed a pay settlement of 3 per cent on staff, while at the same time raising its prices to customers by 11 per cent.

“At a time when inflation is the highest it’s been for decades – 8.2 per cent RPI and 6.2 per cent CPI – Telefonica/VM02 workers are expected to settle for a pay deal of less than half the cost of living,” she said.

As well as imposing the sub-inflation pay rates for 2022, Telefonica/VM02 chiefs have also indicated that they will impose an even lower settlement for 2023, of 2 per cent.

Tracey continued: “Our hard-working members have served the public throughout the pandemic, have regularly gone the extra mile to ensure customer needs are met, have put in extra hours and shifts to make sure the nation has remained connected. And in return for all this, they are being, quite frankly, insulted by their employer here.

“But now this loyal and dedicated workforce have the opportunity to express their anger and frustration – by voting in this ballot and returning a massive mandate”

A consultative ballot is aimed at proving to the company the sheer strength of feeling on the issue of pay, and will, if the result is strong enough, provide clear proof that the workforce rejects the way that the business is treating them.

It is hoped that a powerful result in this poll will persuade Telefonica/VM02 bosses to re-open pay negotiations and put together an improved and more acceptable pay proposal.

But equally, a strong ballot result could lead to a full, statutory industrial action ballot in accordance with the law – if the company still refuses to budge.

The vote opened on 31st March and closes on 12th April and all eligible members have been sent details explaining exactly how to participate in the process.

“We’ve sent out all the relevant information to all members and we’ve also sent out advice to branches and representatives in terms of how to deal with and respond to any enquiries,” Tracey explains.

“So, let’s all work as hard as we can to get the vote out and let’s show Telefonica/VM02 bosses that this union means business.”