Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Read All About It...Vodafone Come Clean....

Vodafone have now come clean and published a note to workers accepting the accuracy of yesterday’s Guardian article. The JV with Orange looks like it’s dead in the water, for the moment at least. Co-operation between the 2 companies will go no further than site sharing.

However, there is still a commitment from both Vodafone and Orange to outsource Field Operations and Maintenance. This is subject to current negotiations with potential suppliers and is likely to me in place within the next 6 months. So after over a year where many Connect members have felt no long term job security the waiting continues.

There is also a caveat that in the long term full network sharing is still desirable. Many people would suggest that this is something that OFCOM should look at very closely as it is essentially reducing competition.

Staff working on the joint venture will be returning to their parent companies, but what happens to those who’s former jobs have been filled? Paul Whybrow isn’t the only person in this position.
Yet again we have seen announcements critical to the lives of Vodafone employees in the media before we have been informed. Large amounts of hot air are generated by the company’s employee communications team, but for any remotely relevant to workers the newspapers are the first to know. Here’s an idea to cut global warming – scrap the glossy magazines and snazzy email bulletins and issue a copy of the Guardian on every desk daily.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Network sharing deal in Vodafone

Connect has spoken to Vodafone in respect to this mornings press speculation on the status of Vodafone and Orange network-sharing deal.

As part of our ongoing dialogue with the company we have pushed for a response, but at this stage Vodafone are unable to confirm or deny the story published in the Guardian today.

Members in Regional Operations will be aware that conference calls scheduled for earlier today were cancelled by the company. Our understanding is that this was because formal announcements could not be made in the timescale originally anticipated. Whilst Connect appreciates that discussions on the network-sharing programme are at a critical point, we do believe that setting up and cancelling the call at late notice has added to the sense of uncertainty and frustration felt by our members.

Your union expects there to be further announcements on the future of the network-sharing deal later this week. At this uncertain time we would like to reassure our members that we are engaged in consultation with the company and that we will continue to assess the impact of announcements on our members in Vodafone. We will look to agree the way forward with the company where possible to deliver the best possible outcome for the members on the key issues and will keep members up to date with that work.

If you have any colleagues who are not members of Connect please pass this email on to them. They can take this opportunity to join the recognised union by going to or calling our membership department on 020 8971 6000.

Project Churchill update from Vodafone

We have received a response from the company to our letter about Project Churchill (Orange RAN share) dated 21 January 2008.

Our letter followed discussions between your Connect representatives and Vodafone and reflected queries that had been raised by members.

It is disappointing that the company is not yet able to make firmer commitments on the key people issues that we have taken up. These are issues that we believe need to be looked at in principle as early as possible in the consultation process with Connect. However we believe it is encouraging that there is a clear sympathy for the strength of feeling of Vodafone employees and that the company has committed to address those concerns in an open and honest way. Connect looks forward to working with Vodafone to establish a way forward that ensures that these sentiments benefit our members in Regional Operations North and South.

In line with our members' wishes and commitments that the company has made, we will engage with Vodafone constructively over the coming weeks up to meeting formally with the company on 5 March to provide more detail on the 'people issues.' We will, of course, update members on progress.

Vodafone’s letter is available to members on the main website.

Friday, 8 February 2008

More Job Cuts at Alcatel-Lucent

Last week Alcatel-Lucent announced 400 job cuts in France as part of their current round of 4000 redundancies globally before the end of next year. This is on top of 12,500 cuts announced in February last year.

This is hardly comforting for the Vodafone employees in the Technology Business Unit who are currently been outsourced to a clearly troubled company. The wisdom of transferring responsibility for systems at the core of a mobile network into the hands of an operation who’s own house is not in order is also questionable.

Alcatel-Lucent are desperate for the business and this would have been reflected in the price they quoted. But long term they are unlikely to be providing services to Vodafone out of charity and will expect to take a profit on the contract. They will only be able to do this by cutting costs.

This highlights why it is essential to fully understand the rights that employment law provides to those individuals affected. TUPE is highly complicated area of law which would be impossible to properly explain in this space. Fortunately our union are experts in employment law and provide members with independent advice so that their rights can be fully exercised.

It is certain that other Vodafone teams will be outsourced during 2008. Unions are unable to support new members in pre existing processes so anyone who has yet to sign up to Connect should do so without delay.