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 ConnectInVodafone@gmail.com

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.