Monday, 15 October 2007

Recognition deal formally signed in Vodafone

Connect has formally signed a Recognition Agreement with Vodafone at the company's Regional Operations site in Warrington.

The acting Head of Regional Operations, Tony McKeown and Employee Relations Manager, David Dunwoody were in attendance for the company, while General Secretary Adrian Askew signed for Connect. Connect was also represented by five of our six formal reps in Regional Operations, showing the importance we place on being a members-led trade union, whether we are negotiating in recognised workplaces or recruiting new members where we are not yet recognised.

We sent out the press release below to mark the occasion.

Vodafone signs union recognition deal

Telecoms union Connect has today signed a landmark deal with mobile phone operator Vodafone. The agreement, which gives formal union rights to hundreds of Vodafone employees, marks the first time the company has recognised a British trade union.

The deal will be welcomed by the wider trade union movement as a demonstration that unions can develop in private sector companies with no previous experience of formal union relationships.

Today's agreement follows years of campaigning by workers in the company, who have been determined to win an independent voice in their workplace. It covers around 500 people working across Vodafone's Regional Operations, part of the company that is essential in keeping its network up and running.

The union will now have the formal right to negotiate on behalf of its members in this part of the company on issues such as pay, holiday and the hours people work.

Connect's General Secretary, Adrian Askew, said:

"Our members in Vodafone's Regional Operations are delighted to finally secure a place at the negotiating table with their employer. Today's announcement will also give hope to people working across the telecoms and IT industry that they can win a genuinely independent voice at work."

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary said:

"This landmark deal proves that trade unions cannot only survive, but thrive in the private sector service economy. Today's announcement is good news for hundreds of Vodafone employees, who can now benefit from Connect's support and expertise. But this is equally good news for Vodafone, who can look forward to a higher level of engagement with their staff."

The agreement follows a decision by the Central Arbitration Committee which has legal powers to require employers to recognise trade unions.

We have already set to work with our members and reps in Regional Operations to deliver the benefits of collective bargaining.

If you work in another area of the business and want to know how you can support us please get in touch with us

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

National Strike in Vodafone Italia

Workers went onto the streets on 5 October to demonstrate against the largest outsourcing project ever seen in the Italian telecommunications sector. The trade unions in the telecoms sector (Fistel, Slc e Uilcom) reject this categorically. They called a national strike on 5 October against the outsourcing of Vodaphone Italia’s backoffice activities to Comdata, a company headquartered in Piedmont and specialising in customer service and call centre management.

According Italian unions, the project is “socially unjust, a slap in the face for the trade unions, wrong for the future of the industry, and puts at risk the company that the market has come to know and appreciate”. The reengineering of its business processes will lead to the transfer of 914 employees (out of a total of 4,600) from one company to the other. The unions believe that this operation is “socially unjust " because it affects almost a thousand workers, mostly young women (average age 33) and jeopardizes their professional future. "A slap in the face for the trade unions", because it affects those groups of workers who have always fought for their rights and dignity, and who identify with the values of the trade union movement. "Wrong for the future of the industry ", because the company will suffer in terms of efficiency and quality, and by outsourcing customer care, Vodafone will be depriving itself of one of the fundamental and best-known assets. The plan puts at risk the current “Vodafone model", and may just be the beginning of a comprehensive downsizing of the company’s core business.

This is going to be the biggest outsourcing project ever carried out in the Italian telecoms sector. "We are very concerned for two reasons", says Armando Giacomassi, National Secretary of Fistel Cisl. “First, the workers directly affected have no real guarantees as to the future of their jobs, and in the longer term, the fear is that this is just the beginning of a corporate strategy which may affect other sectors such as IT and networks".

After the breakdown of negotiations with the corporate management, Ugl Telecomunicazioni announced that it too would join the strike on Friday. Not only has Vodafone confirmed that they do indeed plan to transfer 914 workers, they have also rejected the union’s request for the adoption of a safeguard clause obliging the company to take them back should problems arise. According to Raffaella Di Rodi, National Secretary of Fistel Cisl, this should prompt the trade union confederation to "engage a broad-based discussion in view of the sweeping changes in the telecoms sector, in order to adapt negotiating instruments and provide better protection to the workers who have to live with the consequences of corporate strategies". Workers are particularly worried that once these activities have been hived off, their jobs will be less secure and they will enjoy less protection.

The Vodafone employees who are to be transferred to Comdata are all on contracts of unlimited duration, whereas law no 30 requires that the new employer provide the same level of guarantees as the previous employer only for a period of between 6 months and one year.

"The battle has only just begun”, warns Stefano Mazzucato from Fistel Cisl from Padua. “In addition to the strike, we have also decided to rescind the agreement on the corporate training fund we had signed with Vodafone on 13 September. The company knew full well that only two days later they were going to outsource a part of their services to another company but chose not to mention it".

Monica Cat from Genua, Secretary of Fistel Cisl in the Canavese region, says: "The headquarters in Ivrea is where the impact of the transfer will be the greatest. We cannot agree to a strategy where a financially sound company sells off one of its major activities ". And what does the future hold? "We still have many unanswered questions ".

More from UNI

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Vodafone/Orange Joint Venture Announcement - RAN Sharing and Outsourcing

Following conference calls earlier today with Jeni Mundy, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone UK , Connect members in Regional Operations will be aware that Vodafone has announced that they are looking for an outsourcing partner to maintain their Radio Access Network.

Clearly this announcement will be of concern to our members, particularly in Field Operations.

As the recognised union for members in Regional Operations North and South, Connect has been contacted by the business to discuss this announcement. Although no contract has been signed with an outsource partner and little detail has been given at this stage we will be meeting with the company over the coming months to assess the likely impact of the changes on employees and to represent the views of our members on what will be a difficult time. The Connect representatives that will come from the election process that we are currently undergoing will be fully involved in consultations.

As you'll be aware, in Regional Operations North and South we are able to represent people affected by the proposed changes as the recognised union for H, I and J grades. As the business looks to reduce costs it is important that members across Vodafone give themselves the opportunity to have formal union representation through supporting our organising work by talking to and recruiting their colleagues. You can find out more about this work by contacting our team.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Vodafone and Connect Agree on Recognition

Vodafone and Connect have concluded an agreement for union recognition. The agreement provides a framework for negotiations and for elected representatives across Regional Operations North and South.

Vodafone and Connect now have a basis for working together in negotiations over pay, hours and holidays and in consultation over other key employment issues. The structure for negotiations will include representatives elected from among Connect members in both Regional Operations North and Regional Operations South, who will be supported by Connect. The agreement will ensure that Connect representatives can get the training and paid time off work whch they will need to carry out their union responsibilities.

Connect has opened the process for nominating and electing representatives from within Vodafone Regional Operations.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

T-Mobile Workers Hit By Outsourcing

T-Mobile has named Ericsson as the supplier for the outsourcing of their Field Operations division. On this blog we usually concentrate on Vodafone however it is useful to be aware of activities affecting union members elsewhere in the telecoms industry as Vodafone are often a trend follower.

T-mobile have started the process of consulting workers however the consultation period has been cut from 90 to 30 days, which demonstrates how little value the company place in consulting with it’s employees about important issues such as job security and pensions.

T-Mobile previously committed to giving workers 6 months “job security” however when Hutchinson 3G staff were transferred to Ericsson they were guaranteed a job for 2 years. There is a defined benefit pension scheme on the table but this falls well short of the scheme currently provided by T-mobile.

Connect don’t currently have union recognition in T-mobile so the union is providing all the advice and support possible. Hopefully enough workers will join in the next few weeks to allow a recognition claim as by negotiating collectively the workers bargaining position is much stronger.

In Vodafone our Combined Field Force teams are covered by Connect’s recognition in Regional Operations North and South. With outsourcing operations now been discussed as part of the Orange/Vodafone shared business unit this could be vital.

Outsourcing does seem to be the current flavour in Vodafone so it’s vital that we get union recognition in as many areas of the company as possible. If you’re not already a member of Connect join the fight for a real voice in your workplace today.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

TUC General Secretary praises Connect recognition in Vodafone

Brendan Barber's opening remarks to the TUC Congress included a reference to our recognition win in Vodafone. With reference to critics of modern-day trade unionism, The TUC's General Secretary said:

"To those who say Trade Unions are a relic of a bygone age, stuck in the past, somehow irrelevant to the concerns and aspirations of the 21st century workforce, let us say;

You are wrong, wrong on every count.

Try telling that to workers at Vodafone who have just voted for union recognition for Connect. Proof that Trade Unionism can not only survive but thrive in the private sector service economy"

Congratulations again to our Vodafone members on their achievement, which is of importance not only to us here at Connect but the British Trade Union Movement as a whole.

Friday, 7 September 2007

No Michelin Stars for Vodafone Restaurant

When Vodafone’s office facilities around the country were refurbished 3 years ago we were promised that for the first time staff would be able to enjoy a decent meal on campus at a subsidised price that would make this an attractive option everyday of the week.

However in true Vodafone style corners were cut and catering facilities are now one of the most common issues that members raise with their Connect reps.

Typically the “Hot” (slightly warm) offering consists of something reminisant of a McCain’s oven ready meal and will set you back around £5-6 a go. The sandwiches seem to invariably contain grapes or other fruits alongside the expected cold meat, perhaps some people enjoy roast beef with fruit salad but judging by what remains on the shelves at 1.30 it’s not those who eat at the Vodafone canteen!

For a simple sandwich Vodafone’s tariff can set you back up to £4. Where the subsidy goes is hard to ascertain, if we didn’t know that the company loves it’s workers so much it may have been suggested that in fact they’re making a couple of extra quid by taking advantage of a captive audience for the Vodafone dining experience.

When visiting the Newbury Business Park site after loading your paper plate with the meal of the day (The chef knows how to “cook” 5 meals affectionately known as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) you join the long queue.

Those lucky enough to get an hour for lunch are likely to reach the till, but a thought must be spared for those workers from departments where the DTI’s suggested best practice is ignored and only a ½ hour lunch break is allowed.

The seating is inspired by McDonalds to give a quick turnaround of tables. Sit down for more than a few minuets and you’re likely to need a chiropractor. This barely gives enough time to admire the autographed sports shirts on the wall. There’s a shirt autographed by the England cricket team that LOST the Ashes, and pride of place must go to the shirt signed by Newbury’s second division rugby team.

This isn’t the worst eating establishment in the Vodafone portfolio. The current holder of this most coveted prize is Hayes RMC. Here the penthouse canteen provides a balcony with excellent views of the A4, M4, canal, railway and the added bonus of a plane passing around 100 feet overhead ever 2 minuets on the way to Heathrow. Arrive at 12.00 and you’re likely to be greeting by 2 remaining sandwiches, at least one of which will be cheese and grape. Fortunately there’s a Tesco close by….

We want to hear more about the catering facilities at your Vodafone site. Connect In Vodafone is offering a prize (The toy from a McDonald’s happy meal) for the worst dinning experience in Vodafone.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

The Connect Newbury Summer Party!

Following the floods… The Postponed Connect Summer Party!

Connect & the Vodafone reps are throwing the 2007 Connect Summer Party in Newbury -Enjoy a free buffet & drink on arrival, Good Music & Excellent Entertainment

Celebrate our massive success in winning recognition in Regional Ops, meet your reps & find out about what Connect is doing in Service Ops

Thursday 13th September 2007, 5.30pm onwards, The Hogshead (Function Room), Newbury Town Centre.

Open to all Vodafone workers, Just turn up on the door!

MP congratulates Vodafone members on recognition

Connect member and MP John Robertson has written to congratulate the union and its Vodafone members on winning recognition.

John writes: 'Congratulations to you and the staff at Connect who have worked tirelessly over the last few years for trade union recognition within Vodafone. This is a fantastic achievement and all your hard work and dedication, and that of the Executive, has finally paid off.

'I am sure the employees of Vodafone will welcome their new relationship with Connect and I look forward with Connect and Vodafone in conjunction with the newly formed apComms. Please pass my congratulations to all involved in this.'

John is the Labour MP for Glasgow North West and joint Chair of the all party parliamentary group on communications, known as apComms for short.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Supply Chain Management Add eBay To Preferred Supplier List

An article in The Register today explains that Vodafone is now buying secondhand Nokia 9210’s on eBay to sell to deaf customers using the service provided in association with the RNID.

Vodafone claim in their 2006-2007 Corporate Responsibility report that a key element of their strategy is” Reducing preventable exclusion through accessible features and services for disabled and elderly people, and other customers who find it difficult to use mobile phones”. When the RNID service was launched Vodafone was the forerunning in providing such services, now the company appear to be the forerunner in producing glossy booklets and good intentions and somewhat trailing in delivery.

It is frankly embarrassing that we work for a mobile phone operator forced to scrounge second hand phones to support a service that was once a flagship.

You would think that it wouldn’t be beyond a global operator with over 200 million customers to ask a manufacturer to design a handset fit for 2007 specifically for the RNID service. Alternatively I’m sure the Nokia 9210 would have remained in production had Vodafone offered the service to the deaf community around the world and ordered a sufficient number of handsets to make this viable.

Connect members are a pragmatic bunch, we haven’t been asked how Vodafone best continue the service but we do have a solution. A slightly customised Blackberry running Telnet emulator and a GUI to make it look marketable would provide a snazzy platform to offer a growing target audience a service suitable for the 21st century.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Deception in Regional Operations

This week Connect members in Regional Operations have been asked to complete a form providing personal details such as their employment history, education and it even has a space for a picture! It has the appearance of the type of form you would complete when applying for a job.

What is most concerning is that workers were told that HR was taking this information from all Vodafone employees as part of a routine survey. Only Regional Ops staff are been requested to provide this information, no one in any other part of the business has been approached.

So the question is why do the company want this information? We have the right to know what the purpose of collecting this kind of personal information is. It seems likely that the real reason is in some way related to the Orange/Vodafone RAN share project. The company should give us all the common courtesy of honesty.

We encourage Connect members not to complete this form at this stage, instead contact your rep for advice.

More Dirty Tricks by Vodacom

Earlier this week we thought that the fight by Vodacom South Africa workers had reached a conclusion after the company agreed a settlement with CWU. However on the 7th of August 13 of our colleagues returned to work to be told that they were suspended from their duties without explanation.

Many of those suspended are active union leaders, arrest warrants have been issued against 8 of these on instruction from Vodacom and at least 5 have already spent time in prison for allegedly breaching picketing rules during peaceful protests.

Vodacom are now refusing to meet with the union, despite their recent “agreement”

If you are concerned by the persecution our fellow workers at another Vodafone subsidiary please take the time write to Vodacom’s CEO, Alan Knott-Craig care of UNI, the global union which Connect is a member of.

You can keep up to date with developments in South Africa at the CWU-Vodacom blog.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Connect makes breakthrough to recognition in Vodafone

Connect is now the recognised union for both Regional Operations North and Regional Operations South in Vodafone.

Connect applied to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for recognition under the statutory rules, and the CAC confirmed that a majority of employees were union members. Once Vodafone realised this, the company notified Connect and the CAC that they were prepared to recognise Connect in Regional Operations South. The CAC had already awarded Connect recognition in Regional Operations North.

Recognition means that Connect will represent Regional Operations North and South employees in negotiations and consultation with Vodafone. Connect members will have a truly independent voice at work.

Vodafone employees covered by union recognition will all be covered by Connect's negotiations, and anyone who is not already a Connect member can join today to get a real say in their working lives.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Victory for Workers in Vodacom South Africa

Vodacom, a joint venture between Vodafone and Telkom South Africa has finally chosen to respect the law and recognise CWU South Africa. This brings to an end the month long strike by workers.

The company was offering executives bonus payments for keeping union membership in their divisions below 10%, this has now been withdrawn.

Vodafone promotes its corporate and social responsibility ethos, however the conduct of Vodacom during this dispute as fallen far below what would be expected of an associate of a company that claims such high standards. This includes ordering the arrest of employees engaged in peaceful protests.

Connect members demand that Vodafone adheres to the highest standards in the treatment of employees in every market where the company operates.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Don't Let Your Blackberry Make You Crumble

Last week Tim Yates, Vodafone’s Chief marketing Officer sent out the following memo to everyone in Vodafone:-

I’d like to announce some changes to our email ‘out of office policy which will take effect immediately.

The reason why we are doing this is to make sure we are all aligned and consistent with our new brand – Make the most of now – and to take every opportunity to promote our solutions to work on the move.

As we are now all mostly able to work on the move, our ‘out of office’ notification should only be used if we are on annual leave or during illness and not if we are out of the office in meetings or on training courses. I’d also like to remind you that it is company policy not to include the dates we are away, for security reasons.

In order to achieve a consistent approach, the following is now the approved wording for our out of office notification

I’m now away on annual leave. I appreciate that with Vodafone’s mobile working solutions you can contact me just about anytime, anywhere. However, in my absence if you need a swift response you may wish to contact []

Please make sure you change your current out of office notification to the one detailed above. Many thanks for your support.

Tim Yates
Chief Marketing Officer

The underlying message here is clear, Vodafone expects it’s people to continue to perform their day job even if your away on a training course or out in meetings all day. Otherwise those around us will suffer as they have no way of knowing you’re away from your desk.

The only way this can be achieved is by doing the day job either during breaks or in your own time at the end of the day. This is completely unacceptable and is essentially working for free. Vodafone is not a charity, the company makes serious money and if there is a need to employ more people to cover for meetings and training courses they can afford it.

Connect are running WORKTIMEyourtime, our campaign for a better work life balance. If you are under pressure to work in your own time you should contact Connect immediately for advice. Here are some tips specifically for Vodafone workers:

1 Turn off your work phone when you leave the building, unless you’re paid to be on stand by there’s no need for anyone to be able to contact you in your free time.
2 Turn off your Blackberry when you leave the office, this avoids temptation to read emails when you hear the buzz.
3 Use a separate phone for personal use so your friends and family can contact you but work can’t.
4 If you're out of the office for reasons other than annual leave, and there is a complaint as to why you haven’t responded refer the complainant to Tim Yates message prohibiting sensible use of out of office response.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Sarin is a Seller

Like most Vodafone workers I received a letter from the Halifax this week telling me that the 320 shares awarded to me in the 2005 “Allshares” scheme had sold for around £500. Not at all unwelcome!

Arun Sarin will have been even more pleased with the letter he received as 576,806 Vodafone shares (worth £865,209) matured in his employee share ownership scheme. As he isn’t too hard up at the moment he chose to sell only £350,000 worth, but that would be plenty to buy a house with, even at West Berkshire’s inflated prices!

This is just a drop in the ocean when put into context that Mr Sarin has around £11.5 million pounds worth of Vodafone shares available for disposal.

So there’s some pretty big numbers there but I haven’t finished yet. Vodafone’s annual report tells us that the total number of share options Arun currently holds is 28,281,629 shares worth a whopping 42 million quid!

Go Vodafone!

In the past Vodafone workers were granted annual share options of 50% of their annual salary (GEM shares) which matured after 3 years. This level of reward is now reserved only for executives. Workers on the ground are fobbed off with 5% EPP in cash and are told they’ve got a good deal. Connect members want a single share incentive programme that treats all Vodafone workers equally, not reserving the really juicy share incentive plans for the executive grades. Now that Connect is starting to establish collective bargaining units in Vodafone we are in a much stronger position to negotiate in these areas.

Go Connect!!!

Monday, 30 July 2007

Vodafone Informs Workers of Connect’s Success in Regional Ops North

Vodafone today published a notice on their Technology Intranet informing employees of Connect’s victory in Regional Ops.

Apparently Vodafone “have always engaged positively and constructively with unions and have completed a legal process with Connect to complete a statutory recognition agreement for people in Regional Operations North”

How the management can claim they have engaged positively and constructively with unions is beyond belief! They certainly never have done so with Connect, and if they are engaged with another union (perhaps the guild of spin doctors?) we are unaware.

The only time Vodafone come to the negotiating table is when they are forced to do so by legal process. Now that Regional Ops North have a statutory bargaining unit Vodafone are forced to consult with Connect.

Connect members believe that this process will be mutually beneficial to both workers and the company, and will ultimately make Vodafone more successful in the market place.

We look forward to Vodafone engaging positively and constructively in the way described in the future, Connect are committed to doing likewise.

Vodafone Newbury Branch Meeting

Newbury based Connect members will be meeting on Wednesday 1st August in The Narrow boat from 17.30.

Anyone interested in joining Connect is welcome to attend and find out more about who we are and what we do.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Connect has Majority Membership in RO South

Yesterday the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) agreed that Connect’s membership density in Regional Operations South exceeds 50% and that the application for recognition has therefore been accepted. This positive step forward is due to the efforts of Vodafone employees recruiting their colleagues to the union in recent months.

The CAC will now determine if Regional Operations South is an appropriate bargaining unit and if our membership levels indicate support for collective bargaining. We anticipate that this process will be quicker than our previously successful recognition bid for the North and we will advise you of any developments as they occur.

While we have successfully demonstrated majority membership our ability to bargain collectively on your behalf will be stronger the more members we have. Therefore we are holding a telephone recruitment day on 2 August 2007 – please encourage any colleagues who are not yet members of Connect to call 0121 643 7333 between 9.30am and 4.30pm on this day and one of our Vodafone project team will be happy to register new members and answer questions about the work that we do and the benefits of being a Connect member.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Connect Party Postponed

Due to the adverse weather conditions, and local flood warnings, the venue for our party cannot guarantee that we will not find ourselves under water. Regretfully we are going to postpone until Thursday 13th September- same venue and time. We will put a reminder out nearer the time.

We were very much looking forward to spending time with our Newbury members and really hope that you will be able to join us in September instead.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Vodafone shareholders get the message on anti union activities in South Africa

A UNI delegation made a protest outside the Vodafone AGM and several delegates who were shareholders or had proxy votes from Vodafone shareholders, made the Vodafone shareholders at the Annual General Shareholders meeting aware of the anti union activities that Vodacom (Vodafone's South African subsidiary) have been undertaking to stop the CWU South Africa from gaining union recognition.

During question time at the Vodafone AGM, UNI Head of Telecom Neil Anderson, demanded that Vodafone respect the core ILO conventions and Human Rights standards and stop their union bashing of the CWU. He also pointed out that Vodafone's CSR report is deficient on human rights and labour standards and the company needed to address this issue.

The delegation got considerable support from shareholders present. Two colleagues from CWU South Africa also were at the meeting, Aubry Thsabalala and Thabo Mogalane and along with Connect from the UK and the CWU Ireland made a protest to the meeting. They told the meeting that Vodacom had sought arrest warrants and were trying to intimidate the strikers. Further that their claims for union recognition were so that they could address the discrimination and unfair promotion processes that were in place. Also there were diverse and unfair pay rates issues that needed to be resolved.

The result was that the Chairman of the Board, John Bond accepted there was an issue to answer and a small meeting was held with Paul Donovan, International Group Manager, where this issues were discussed and the company agreed to look into UNI and the CWU's allegations of anti union activity and to support an independent mediation that has been proposed in South Africa.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Vodafone reaction to Connect's Trade Union recognition ruling

An article in ZDNet today almost made me choke on my cornflakes in disbelief. It contained the first Vodafone reaction to Connect's success in Regional Operations North that I’ve seen.

A Vodafone spokesman said: "Vodafone UK engages positively and constructively with unions. Vodafone UK also remains convinced the most effective form of engagement with its employees is through direct engagement and things that we use at the moment include recorded messages, online information, printed newsletters as a way of keeping employees informed but performance dialogues are also held with each employee twice yearly as well as monthly meetings with line managers."

The spokesman added: "Most areas of the company regularly hold forum meetings and during those questions can be asked of senior management, in addition to road shows and visits from the executive team, so we try and be as transparent and open as we can."

This spokesman certainly doesn't work for the Newbury based mobile phone operator we all know and love!

Vodafone has consistently refused to engage with Connect, I am unaware of a single occasion anywhere in the company where this has happened!!! Unless constructive engagement includes representing members at grievance hearings!

During the recognition process Vodafone stalled at every opportunity, even after it had been demonstrated that 50%+ of the workers were members.

Vodafone workers need a trade union because of the way they are taken advantage of by their employer. Now the company has no choice but to listen to workers, and this will ultimately be positive for the company.

The recorded messages, online information and printed newsletters the spokesman talks of is nothing to do with direct engagement, they appear to be more of an attempt at brain washing! Engagement would involve a 2 way dialogue and these media are hardly conducive to that. The company appear to believe if you tell the employee something enough times they will believe it. I guess mind control comes cheaper than investing in people.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Unions protest at Vodafone AGM

Trade Unions from around the world will be at the Vodafone AGM tomorrow to protest against the companies anti-union activities.

In South Africa, Vodacom (50% owned by Vodafone) refuses to recognise The Communication Workers Union of South Africa. 1200 members have been striking in protest and they reported company provocateurs infiltrating strikers to insult them, cameramen charging the picket line and even slapping workers. Workers have never responded to these aggressions.

Reginald Mokitlane was going home after the peaceful picketing of Vodacom when he was arrested by police under the instruction of a Risk Management official from Vodacom.

The strike has been perhaps the most peaceful strike in the recent history of South Africa. No damages to persons or property have been reported.

“We condemn Vodacom’s actions to resist union recognition and to victimise union members in a peaceful, lawful strike,” said UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings. “Workers in South Africa and around the world have a right to join unions and to bargain collectively as a result of decisions taken at the International Labour Organisation.”UNI has called on Vodafone executives to meet them to discuss the South Africa dispute.

For more information see:-

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Flooding Hits Vodafone’s HQ and Newbury Business Park Sites

On Friday Vodafone workers evacuated buildings in the HQ and Newbury Business Park offices were closed after flooding hit the area. The Banbury call centre was also closed to allow staff to collect children from the local school.

Today some HQ buildings remain flooded and workers have been advised not to attend on Monday unless it is essential.

There is no immediate criticism of the way the company has handled this incident. We don’t hold the management responsible for the weather!

We would be interested to hear how workers have been treated by the company during the flooding, particularly those working in retail stores and call centres where experience is often vastly different to that seen by Newbury based members

Email your stories to us at

Footage taken by Vodafone HQ workers:

Friday, 20 July 2007

More on the Landmark Victory for Connect Members in Vodafone

Vodafone workers are celebrating today, following a legal ruling that means the company must recognise communications union Connect. It will be the first time that a union has been recognised by Vodafone in the UK. Vodafone staff have been calling for a union to give them a stronger voice at work.

The decision covers workers responsible for keeping the company's network running across the Midlands, North of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Today's announcement follows months of talks between the union and Vodafone in the hope of finding an agreement on recognition. However, Vodafone resisted throughout the process, and Connect applied for legally enforced recognition.

The decision means that Vodafone must now consult with Connect on the pay, hours and holidays of the affected workers.

The union has also submitted a further claim for recognition that would cover similar workers in the South of England.

Connect's General Secretary, Adrian Askew, said: "This is a landmark victory for our members in Vodafone, and it is a tribute to how they have come together to demand a say in their working lives.

"Vodafone workers are calling loud and clear for a voice at work that is independent and professional. Our membership growth in the company has shown that even in the biggest of blue-chip companies, employees understand that trade unions are still the only way to secure a truly independent voice.

"The hard work now lies ahead of us, representing our members and influencing the decisions that affect them. We look forward to building a constructive and forward looking relationship with the company, and demonstrating the long-term benefits that come from having a union voice at the table.

"Our membership in Vodafone is going from strength to strength and Connect will continue to look for new opportunities to ensure that all our members are heard by Vodafone management."

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Victory in Regional Ops North!!!

After several months the recognition process for Connect members in Regional Operations North is finally complete and their union now has recognition.

Vodafone tried to string out the process for as long as possible even though there was not a legal leg to stand on. What happens if you sit on a 3 legged chair? Well Vodafone’s has fallen over today!

Connect has already started the legal process to force recognition in Regional Operations South and is fully committed to following the same process in any other area of Vodafone where the membership is sufficiently strong.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Employee experience on the slide in SO

The latest edition of the Service Operations Employee Experience Newsletter was forced into the hands of many Connect members today. Included in this was the news that employee experience index within Service Ops fell from 71% to 64%. That’s quite a dip and I would suspect if someone was deliberately working to detriment the score they would find such a result difficult to achieve!

The occasional computer games tournament in the hall way at lunch time is good (Particularly for those fortunate enough to get a lunch break) but it clearly isn’t enough to have a significant impact to many of us.

It appears that the company is committed to spending a lot of time talking about how important employee experience is but they are not prepared to put their hands in their pockets to improve the life of workers in a meaningful way.

The SO employee experience team have been approached with the suggestion that perhaps they should be engaging with Connect. After all O2 where Connect is recognised and consulted on such matters is ranked 6th in the Times best companies to work for, far higher than Vodafone. The response received was that the company felt it inappropriate to involve the union in this way. This is sad really as this is an area where Connects objectives match those that Vodafone claim to hold.

Monday, 16 July 2007

More Outsourcing at Vodafone

We learned today that yet another operations team at Vodafone is to be outsourced. Interconnect Provisioning has been put up for tender and the smart money will be on Ericsson to win the contract.

It seems like the operation of Vodafone’s mobile network is been carved up like the turkey at Christmas, with the biggest losers been those at the coalface who have dedicated many years of their working lives to Vodafone.

The companies who win outsourced contracts do so because they but in the lowest tender. They do this by firstly cutting corners and delivering a lower quality service and secondly by giving displaced workers less benefits. Anyone unfortunate enough to find that Vodafone has sold on their contract of employment to a 3rd party will that their new employer soon wants to cut back on things like final salary pensions and share options.

There is some protection afforded to outsourced employees, TUPE on the face of it transfers the majority of your T & C’s but in reality the law is highly complex and as soon as you sign a new contract ceases to apply.

This is why we need to make sure that we are all members of Connect. As an individual member Connect you get all the appropriate legal advice from Connects team of employment law experts completely free of charge.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Vodafone Don't Want To Party, But We Do!!!

Connect’s Vodafone branch are celebrating our successes over the past year at the Connect Summer Party which will be held in the Hogshead function room (right hand side as you go in) on Friday 27th July from 5.30 until late!!!

It’s open to all Vodafone employees, members and non-members are all welcome. We can’t promise Kylie but there will be free food, a free drink on arrival, good music and excellent entertainment.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Churchill - Vodafone/Orange joint venture

So from indigo to Vorange the latest name on the cards for the Vodafone/Orange joint venture is Churchill.

That sounds like the dog that always says yes....

Our colleagues in Regional Operations have been told that there will be an announcement about the joint venture on the 20th July. This is significant been the day after the AGM, where the company is obliged to make significant announcements to the city. Traditionally the shop floor learns the finer detail,ie the stuff that effects us the next day.

RO reps are working hard organising and recruiting members and we expect that collective bargaining will be in place before any change comes to fruition. We expect Connect to be consulted and the impact to members to be minimised. But with Vodafone refusing to play ball this will only be achieved through us creating a strong trade union.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

INCA to be outsourced

Connect members in‍‍ INCA‍‍‍‍ have‍ been informed that their roles are to be outsourced and that the company has put out to tender the contract to provide the service which is currently under the remit of their team.

This is very significant as it represents the 1st time that one of Vodafone’s core telecoms activates will be outsourced.

Surely a global provider of telecoms services cannot be beaten in delivering the core components of a mobile telephony network? Companies outsource parts of their business when they are no longer able to manage them efficiently in house. The question that should be asked is why not? Come on Vodafone, go away and hire the suitable senior management rather than chucking out the baby with the bath water!!!‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍

Vodafone seem to be a little behind the times here. Many of the UK’s biggest companies are now insourcing their core activates-bringing them back in-house. They found that those awarded outsource contracts did provide the function at a cut down cost….by cutting corners and providing a lower level of service

Connect members who are affecting by this move should contact their Connect representative, if you know anyone in the area affected please encourage them to join Connect so we can fight their corner.

Vodacom fight for recognition

We still await news from the CAC about our recognition claim for Regional Operations North, although early indication is that the company has not formally requested a ballot.

You may be aware that union organising in Vodafone is not limited to the UK . CWU South Africa is also organising for recognition in the face of extreme opposition in Vodacom South Africa . This has included management opposition and intimidation of union members, including locking out of union members for wearing union t-shirts.

The Connect Vodafone branch has written the following message of solidarity, sent via the international trade union network UNI.

We are writing to you from Vodafone UK , via our trade union, Connect. We are fighting for recognition here too and believe we are on the verge of an independent voice at work in part of the UK operation.

We have heard about your struggle and are writing to express our support and solidarity. We are with you in spirit and send our best wishes to our South African colleagues. Please stay strong and remember that your fellow Vodafone employees around the world are thinking of you.

Connect Vodafone branch.

More information can be found on the CWU members blog, which includes background information about the behaviour of the company and also links to an email you can send in support of the workers. Please take a moment to look at this and support it if you can.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

In The Narrowboat on Tuesday

Connect members from Service Operations and other areas met in the Narrowboat last on Tuesday. As usual members shared
their experiences of life in Vodafone over a cold drink or two. Many members find these meetings useful in their work life’s as it
allows people from different parts of the business to mix, people who wouldn't normally mix.

The hot news is that there is a Connect party (If VF don't wanna party it doesn't mean we can't!) planned for the end of
July -Watch this space!!!

We also discussed ways to encourage new members into Connect. As if representation at any disciplinary or grievance procedure, £400 sick pay if you lose half or more of your wage due to ill health and upto 10% off many high
street shops wasn't enough!!!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Re-Org For Service Ops/TS

Today Jenny Munday announced at a meeting of senior managers that there is to be a re-org of Service Ops and TS. Full details are not clear and will be briefed out from Wednesday.

We understand that several teams from SO and TS will be merged together under the Service Ops umbrella. There have been no indications of any redundancies as a result of this, however given the painful experience of some Connect members during previous Vodafone restructures this cannot be ruled out.

Members directly impacted by this initiative should contact their Connect organiser for further advice.

If you know anyone who has yet to join Connect then the time is now!

What Next For Regional Ops North?

You will be aware that for the past few months Connect and Vodafone have been engaged in discussions about recognition for collective bargaining in Technology Regional Operations and that Connect put in a formal application for recognition when informal talks failed.

Connect learned last week that the Government’s Central Arbitration Committee has ruled that our proposed bargaining unit of Regional Operations North was viable, despite Vodafone's objections. The next stage is for the CAC to decide whether to award recognition based on high and growing Connect membership, or to hold a workplace ballot of all staff in Regional Operations North. We have today made a submission to the CAC stating that we believe our membership figures demonstrate sufficient support for collective bargaining and that therefore it is within their remit to award recognition without a ballot. Our members have clearly stated all along that they want collective bargaining and have joined the union to that end. However, so far Vodafone has been obstructive at every stage and we expect them to continue this by requesting a ballot.

Today we have also written to the company to announce our intention to seek recognition in Regional Operations South, where our membership has grown significantly, and our members have asked us to apply for recognition on their behalf. This is the first step in the process for submitting the appropriate application to the CAC.

Saturday, 30 June 2007

CAC Confirms Regiona Ops North bargaining rule is viable

The government’s Central Arbitration Committee has now ruled that Regional Operations North is a viable bargaining unit for recognition for collective bargaining in Vodafone.
This is a significant step in Connect’s campaign for recognition in the company. We welcome this decision which clearly supports the arguments that have been made by the union and its members in Vodafone.

The CAC now needs to determine whether the union has sufficient support for collective bargaining. The CAC can either:
· award recognition based on our strong and growing membership figures, or;
· conduct a workplace ballot, if it concludes that membership density alone does not indicate support for collective bargaining.

The announcement means that any decision will be applied to Regional Operations North. However, it will be welcomed by all members across the company as a very clear step towards achieving an independent voice for Vodafone workers.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Did you get your 4.3% today?

For must of us the answer to that question will be no. Today is the day which we receive our wages with the addition of this years pay rise. It appears that this years pay rise was worth 2-3% to most of us this year.

In reality that’s no pay rise at all, in fact it’s a pay cut. Inflation (RPI) is currently running at 4.3%. Anything below that and we’re not keeping up with the cost of the the essential things we buy every day. So our fortunate colleague who received a 3% pay rise (and most have worked very hard to get this much!) will be able to buy 1.3% less stuff this year with the fruits of their 200ish days labour.

One of the main advantages of a collective bargaining unit is that by standing together we can get a much better deal. No one is asking for the kind of double digit pay rises enjoyed by Sarin and the board, but surely anyone who’s performance over the last 12 months was “Good” deserves a pay rise that at least matches inflation!!!

Connect Meeting in Newbury - Tuesday 3rd July

Tuesday 3rd July 2007
5.30 onwards
The Narrowboat, London Road , Newbury RG14 2BP

Come and hear the latest news from your Connect Service Ops reps who attended Connect Conference last week. Conference gave Vodafone reps and members unanimous support for their continued recognition struggle.

Your chance to meet other Connect members, ask questions or raise issues, such as pay, performance management or anything else concerning you.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Connect Bi-Annual conference 2007

Last week reps from Service Ops joined our colleagues from Regional Ops at the Connect bi-annual conference in Plymouth to form the Vodafone delegation. The warmth of the greeting from conference was amazing!
Everyone was aware of the battle for recognition currently been fought by Regional Ops and their support was gladly received.

On the first day the delegation met with Adrian Askew, Connect General Secretary, and discussed the role
played by Vodafone employed members. Adrian believes that workers in the wireless sector represent the future for Connect,
and the work done by reps and Connect organisers in green field organisations such as Vodafone is immensely important.

Over the course of the conference our reps talked to a number of our colleagues in BT and other workplaces. Everyone was
eager to share their experiences of union organising many offers of help and support were recieved

The Vodafone delegation put forward the a proposal for the conference to agree that Connect
Should continue to provide unwavering support to gaining recognition in Regional Ops and any other area
where membership is sufficiently strong. Colleagues in both T-mobile and Yell spoke in support.
Not only was the proposal passed unanimously but they received a standing ovation leaving the podium.

There was never any doubt that Vodafone members had the full support of Connect, but our delegation left certain
that we are key to the strategy of our union.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Connect Meets Vodafone at Central Arbitration Committee

Today Connect met Vodafone in a formal hearing at the Central Arbitration Committee. The purpose of the hearing was to decide on whether Regional Operations North is a viable unit for collective bargaining.

Vodafone is arguing that nothing short of the whole of Regional Operations could be a viable bargaining unit. Connect, having listened to your views and your perspective on working in Vodafone, can see no good reason why collective bargaining cannot start off in Regional Operations North. Obviously, we have ambitions to extend into other areas of Regional Operations - and also into other parts of Vodafone, as we build up support. But we still believe that Regional Operations North would be a viable bargaining unit.

We hope to get a decision from the CAC panel on Friday of next week, and will let members know the situation as soon as we hear. Remember - this is only a decision about the appropriate bargaining unit, not about recognition - that will be the next stage in the statutory process, where we will have to demonstrate that there is majority support for collective bargaining within the approved bargaining unit.