Thursday, 26 June 2008

Outsourcing In Vodafone Technology Teams

Vodafone has this morning announced its intention to enter into a 'Request for Proposal' (RFP) process.

The outcome of this process may be that Vodafone decides to outsource some of its functions to an outside company or vendor.

At this stage there are members potentially in scope in parts of Regional Operations and Service Operations in Technology and also within the Property function. However it appears that no firm decision has been made and that it will be some months before Vodafone reaches a decision to outsource or not.

As the recognised union for a significant number of members in scope Connect has been informed of the proposals and has already started to make recommendations on how consultation will look over the coming months and what the critical issues are for members. Your union has extensive experience in dealing with outsourcing and TUPE and will ensure that members concerns on thee impact on them as employees are expressed in a strong and independent way.

In addition to 'strategic and long-term benefits', Vodafone has explained that the key drivers behind this process are focus, quality and cost. Over the coming months we will ensure that these drivers are challenged robustly. Through this process we believe that Vodafone will want to demonstrate the sustainability of any proposals going forward. Without this sustainability it will be impossible for Connect and our members to be confident that employees' terms and conditions and job security can be safeguarded after any transfer.

We will of course be requiring Vodafone to enter into meaningful consultation with Connect with a view to reaching agreement on these and other critical issues, such as TUPE terms and conditions, pension rights, at the earliest opportunity to ensure that the views of our members are given appropriate weight by Vodafone and by any potential new employer as part of the RFP process.

It is vital at this time that you and your colleagues are members of Connect. Keep your eye out for future updates and if you have any queries please contact your Connect Representative or our Helpdesk on 020 8971 6060.

If you have colleagues who are not yet members they need to join us now. We can accept members from both within where we have union recognition and where we do not at this moment. Joining is easy and can be done by visiting or contacting our membership department on 020 8971 6000.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Did you get a pay cut this year?

Over the past few weeks everyone in Vodafone should have sat down with their line manager and been given a letter explaining what you will earn next year. If you don’t like it in most cases it’s tough luck because there is no room for negotiating on pay in Vodafone, you get what your given.

The government says that inflation is currently running at 4.3%, but the price of essentials including food, heating and petrol is going through the roof. The cost of living for most of us is increasing at the fastest rate in decades. It is clear that anyone who received a pay rise was less than 4.3% will find their salary won’t go as far this year as it did last.

But many in Vodafone are finding that their pay is now frozen due to the “global banding” system introduced a couple of years ago. When it was introduced workers were explicitly told that it was not a pay cap, but now they are told that due to global banding their pay rise this year is zero.

Connect members have told us that few of those who were lucky enough to get a pay rise got more than 3%.

For one group of Vodafone workers this year’s pay round was different. In Regional Operations more than 50% of staff have joined the union, so they now have the benefit of collective bargaining. For the first time in the UK Vodafone had to negotiate with a union on pay. This puts Connect members in this area in a far stronger position. The union negotiated an acceptable proposal with the company and members had the final say in a ballot. This only applies to one area of the business at the moment but with your support Connect intends to extend this for next year’s pay round.

This won’t happen unless you do something about it. To form a collective bargaining unit 50% of workers in the area of the business need to be members. We have strong membership in all areas of Technology, Customer Services and Retail, but we need more. If you’re not already a member then join today, if you are then talk to your colleagues and make sure they’re aware of the benefits of joining Connect. You can join online or by calling the membership hotline on 020 8971 6000. There is a special reduced rate for Vodafone members in areas where Connect isn’t yet a recognised union. So make your voice heard in Vodafone and join your union today.

Friday, 20 June 2008

BT Members Vote For Industrial Action

Delegates at Connect's Conference have voted overwhelmingly to reject the company's proposals for an agreement designed to avert an industrial dispute. Following that the union's leadership has given notice that industrial action will start on 24 June.

Following a comprehensive debate at Connect's Conference, with elected delegates from all parts of BT, delegates voted overwhelmingly to reject BT's proposals. The union's BT Committee then decided to end the suspension of industrial action and to start industrial action short of a strike in BT on 24 June. This decision builds on a strong vote in favour of industrial action which you delivered in the postal ballot. We have now served BT with formal notice of industrial action.

The Pay Fair! campaign supports Connect’s objective of securing a better pay deal in BT:-

  • A fair pay increase for all A fair deal should cover everyone. So far, BT has not made an offer which would cover people in RF Bands 2 and 3. And the proposed matrix for Band 1 will not distribute the available budget fairly.
  • Equal pay We’ve made some progress with BT on this – but not enough. BT needs to do more to eliminate pay discrimination from the Reward Framework structure.
  • Differentials How does it make sense to have managers paid less than the people they manage?
  • Increases to pay ranges BT hasn’t increased some pay ranges for years. This has affected – ie reduced – the pay increases people have had from the agreed pay reviews. And it has caused some acute business problems, such as not being able to recruit into certain jobs.
  • Pay progression A salary structure doesn’t work properly, and can’t deliver fair pay, if people can’t move up their pay ranges.

If this sounds like a lot to ask – it’s not. Much of it is not even about the amount of money this year, it’s about putting a workable structure in place for the future. The fact is that these are reasonable, affordable aims, and that BT can’t claim to run a world-class company without addressing them.

This industrial action will mean that Connect members in BT will only their contractual hours, which for some members would be a significant cut in the working week. We would also expect members not on formal call-out rotas to turn off their mobiles and BlackBerries and not check emails other than during within the 36 hour (pro rata for part-time workers) week.

If members take action together and really stick to contracted hours, BT will feel the effects. Many members have got into the habit of going the extra mile for the company, taking calls and doing work out of hours, staying late in the office, starting early to travel long distances to meetings, that some parts of the company will struggle to function effectively and meet crucial milestones on projects.

Connect don’t think the company, which is very aware of its public image and its reputation in the City, wants want this to happen. But right now, it’s trading on the goodwill of members – but not rewarding and respecting them accordingly.

Connect members in Vodafone fully support the action that our colleagues in BT are taking, they are in our thoughts during what is a difficult time. To find out more visit the Connect-BT PayFair website.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Driving Licence Verification for vehicle users in Vodafone Regional Operations

Vodafone has responded to concerns raised by Connect on behalf of members about the introduction of the new driving license checking process for drivers of company vehicles.
Following discussions over several months with members your Connect representatives identified a number of key issues that we felt that Vodafone needed to address in their approach to introducing the new system.

We stressed that members required assurances that the new process was necessary and reasonable. Given concerns and previous experiences we also asked that consideration was given to ensure that personal information would be managed appropriately and confidentially.
To make those assurances and take this change forward constructively we suggested that Vodafone needed to:

  • Recognise that employees concerns were genuine and required consideration and a measured response.
  • Ensure that it was clear to those being asked to complete the mandate that these changes were, in part, necessary due to legal obligations stemming from the Vodafone's 'duty of care' to employees and other road users.
  • Give assurance of safeguards around storage of information and usage by third parties.
  • Understand that issuing blanket threats and deadlines without responding to concerns is not the most effective way of managing change.
  • Extend the period of mandate signing to enable employees to consider the points above.

Vodafone has now provided a document to managers and team leaders that gives a fuller explanation of the background to the new system.

We believe that the document and revised approach that Vodafone has adopted is reasonable and addresses the key concerns that raised by Connect and our members. We will, of course, be monitoring this process and welcome feedback from members going forward.

Friday, 9 May 2008

The Vodafone Performance Dialogue

It’s the time of the year again where most Vodafone employees sit down with their line manager for the annual performance dialogue. Connect receives a large number of queries from members about the process, and how it should be applied.

Connect encourages all members to have a PD, and SMART objectives. These should have been agreed this time last year and should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realist and Time-bound. We find that many members are given objectives that do not conform to these criteria. These should be challenged.

Throughout the year you should have a one-to-one with your line manager every month. Use this to ask for your anticipated PD grade. If you are told there are weaknesses ask for evidence and your manager should provide support in improving these.

If you are marked down and there is no evidence challenge this. There should be no surprises and weaknesses should have been identified long before your PD.

If you have had sick leave this needs to be taken into account and objectives should be adjusted to reflect this. No one should be marked down because they were ill. Similarly maternity leave should in no way impact a PD grade.

Levelling or calibration should ensure there is consistency across the business, but forced distributions or quotas should not be applied as every team is different.

If you are in any doubt members should speak to a Connect rep.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Connect and UNI meet Vodacom South Africa

UNI's affiliates with members in the Vodafone group of companies, met together in Johannesburg, South Africa and discussed the progress they had made in organising and developing union structures in the Vodafone Group of companies. They celebrated the recognition of unions in both Vodacom in South Africa and Vodafone in the United Kingdom and committed to work together to build stronger unions in those countries and to support union organising efforts in other parts of the global operations of Vodafone. Unions came from the UK, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Spain and the United States to plan and discuss how they could help the UNI Vodafone Union Alliance to gain union rights and workers rights wherever in the world that Vodafone operates.

The international colleagues also met with a number of the shop stewards for the CWU South Africa who are working to make Vodacom South Africa a better place to work. The CWU and the it's Vodacom members have been through a long struggle including a 5 week strike to gain union recognition at Vodacom and the international delegation heard about their struggles and the work they are now doing to gain proper bargaining with the company. This despite the intimidation and harassment that seem to be a daily concern for these workers. The UNI delegation was very happy to strengthen the relations between these workers and other Vodafone and Vodacom workers world wide so that there is a strong UNI family of workers in the Vodafone Group globally.

The international delegation also met with the CEO of Vodacom, Allan Knott-Craig and discussed the need for respect between workers and management if Vodacom was to become a truly good and socially responsible employer in the African continent. Mr Knott-Craig told the delegation that he personally respected union rights and workers rights and welcomed a union into Vodacom where he hoped that workers issues cold be dealt with in a respectful and honest manner by the company's management. He said that he would welcome a proposal from UNI Global Union to try and develop a global agreement and understanding on proper labour rights and standards for workers participation in the company. A number of issues of concern to the South-African colleagues were also discussed with Mr Knott-Craig and he said his door was always open to the unions to ensure the company ran in a respectful and socially responsible manner. He urged the CWU to raise issues of concern directly with him.