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.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Connect meet Vodafone to Discuss Dismissals in Regional Ops

Connect has met with Vodafone to raise our members concerns about the recent dismissals in Regional Operations

Members will recall from earlier communications that these were done on the same day as notices of redundancy although the same terms were not, we understand, offered. Dismissals such as these occurred across the business; however we were able to raise this formally with the company in Regional Operations as the recognised union.

We have reminded the company that these dismissals fall outside of employment law and are not in keeping with Vodafone's own policies. Through these discussions we have ensured the company understands that this situation is entirely unacceptable to Connect and our members. It is important that decision-makers in the company appreciate that dismissing people outside of due process has a serious and negative impact. This impact is felt more widely than the individuals dismissed. Where an employer picks and chooses whether or not it follows its own policies it needs to understand that this will hurt trust and confidence in the relationship with its employees.

We have made it clear that shabby behaviour such as this has no place in a modern, successful company, particularly one that commits resource and publicity to presenting a positive image of employee engagement and 'passion' for its people.

The company has now sent a letter to Connect to respond to those concerns expressed on behalf of members. It is disappointing that they have declined our request to reinstate those individuals dismissed should that be what those individuals wish. Where those dismissed are union members we will, when requested, provide full support and assistance up to and including legal advice and this may include exploring the option of reinstatement. Unfortunately we are unable to extend this help to people who are not members of the union, or to provide full membership benefits to those not members when they were dismissed. The message loud and clear to non-members is that it is now time to join!

If any member is asked to attend a meeting such as this in the future please do not hesitate to call a halt to the conversation before contacting the union immediately.

To prevent issues like this in the future Vodafone needs to recognise why Connect and our members will not agree to the company acting in an arbitrary way. On that basis we note the company's written response that stresses the specific and individual nature of this situation and its statement that this is not a change in the normal approach to performance management within Vodafone generally and within Regional Operations specifically.

The company has agreed to work with Connect in Regional Operations to move forwards and put this 'one off' situation in a clearer context. In doing so we will needs to see the development of a workplace in which trust and respect between employer and employee is obligatory and genuine. Clearly there is much work to do on this, but we believe it is something that members will support their union in achieving.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Vodafone "Brand" Hammered on Redundancy News

The following is abridged from, a website for those working in marketing and the media. It shows the impact of Vodafone's new employee relations policy on the value of the company's brand. This is also likely to have an effect on the summer's EPP bonus...

Vodafone might be in pole position in terms of Formula One sponsorship thanks to its relationship with Lewis Hamilton but its Brand Buzz is taking a battering on the back of a major redundancy programme, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex.

The mobile operator has just unleashed the “Make the most of now” television campaign featuring the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver and is hoping to capitalise on his “golden boy” status in the UK as a brand ambassador.

However, the best-laid marketing plans can always be overshadowed by other news and the fact Vodafone announced on 18 March that it is to make 450 job cuts at is Berkshire head office has probably led to the slip in the brand’s Buzz. It fell from 4 at the beginning of the racing season to -1 by the middle of last week.

The Buzz is a measure of whether people have heard positive or negative statements about a brand. Despite a barrage of recent activity and initiatives aimed at a variety of demographics Vodafone has not really seen its Buzz climb higher than 4 in the past six months.

It cannot have helped that the opening of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow was meant to be the centrepiece of Vodafone’s outdoor campaign with backlit billboards in the baggage reclaim halls.
The huge negative media coverage surrounding the T5 farrago will not have helped brands associated with it, although on the plus side waiting passengers will have had plenty of time to see the messages.

It’s a shame that news of another high profile initiative, the global deal with Warner Music International to help promote the new Madonna album, broke the same day as the redundancy revelations . The singer’s new album arrives on 28 April and Vodafone will offer tracks for download from 21st. Hopefully, the company’s PR machine will step up activity and help the brand recover momentum.

Looking at other BrandIndex markers it’s no surprise that the Corporate rating, which measures if people would want to work for the company, has slipped dramatically from a high of 17 at the end of December to 9 by last Friday (28 March).

The Vodafone UK marketing team is still a process of flux and axed the chief marketing officer position in February. Head of brand and marketing communications Dominic Chambers also chose this juncture to leave and UK consumer director Ian Shepherd is yet to unveil a new head of brand. The department is going to have to work hard to get the brand back on track.