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Reach agreement now or face an industrial action ballot – CWU’s message to Capita.

Capita O2 and Tesco Mobile contract members reject 4% pay snub as cost of living crisis reaches desperation point for some

Contact centre members across Capita have voted by well over nine-to-one to reject massive real term pay cuts from a company that reported a 1,631% increase in its full year profits this spring.

Despite bullish public pronouncements by bosses over Capita’s transformed commercial performance (see story here, the company has consistently insisted that 4% is the most it can afford to pay ex-Telefonica members in the recognised O2 and Tesco Mobile contract bargaining units.

As for those employed since the mass TUPE from Telefonica in 2013 – namely some of the lowest paid employees in Capita, who in recent years have been pegged to the Real Living Wage (RLW) – the company is currently refusing to pay a bean until next April.

Urgent calls have been made by the union for the soon to be announced revised RLW rate – the unveiling of which has been brought forward from November to the end of this month because of the cost of living crisis – to be paid immediately, rather than waiting for its formal implementation date next April.

But that demand ­– jointly tabled by those representing the CWU’s postal constituency members working on Capita’s BBC TV Licensing contract– continues to be rejected by bosses, despite the CWU flagging up heartrending examples of in-work poverty. These include, at the extreme, instances of threats of homelessness and members seeking welfare payments to assist where rents have been raised.

“Some members simply cannot meet the bills that are coming in,” explains CWU national officer for Capita O2 and Tesco Mobile partnership members, Tracey Fussey.

Meanwhile Capita’s arbitrary pronouncement that it does not believe the recognised O2 bargaining unit includes homeworkers employed from March 2020 means another group doesn’t even know whether the company’s woefully inadequate 4% ‘final’ offer applies to them anyway!

Accordingly, this week members across both bargaining units delivered a decisive verdict on management’s offer.  Within the Capita 02 partnership it was rejected by a staggering 94.9% of those participating in a consultative ballot organised by the CWU. An identical poll of members in the Tesco Mobile partnership saw 93.8% vote against the deal.

Ball in management’s court

Members’ unequivocal ‘rejection of company’s current stance  was immediately relayed to management – coincidentally on the eve of the near identical dispute involving TV Licensing members entering mediation at the independent arbitration service ACAS.

Thanking the large majority of members who participated the consultative ballot, and local branch officials for the hard work that contributed to both the impressive turnout and the unequivocal result, Tracey Fussey said: “I’m pleased to say that Capita has already indicated they wish to discuss pay further with the CWU, and a meeting has been scheduled for next week.

“It’s now time for management to wake up and accept they have to address not just the clear deficiency of the 4% offer itself but also the parallel unacceptability of their current refusal to do anything until April for RLW employees who are in desperate straits right now.

“As for the disagreement regarding whether or not our O2 contract bargaining unit includes homeworkers who were recruited during and after the pandemic, it’s simply astonishing that we’re still having this row – especially as our recognition agreement clearly states: ‘For the avoidance of doubt, homeworkers are included in the scope of this agreement’!”

Tracey continues: “Given the fact that we have a serious pay dispute that urgently needs resolving, it defies belief that the company is picking a fight regarding a detail of the recognition agreement that is nonetheless extremely important to our recently recruited homeworking members. They also need the security that a fair pay deal would bring.

“The CWU has made it absolutely plain from the outset that we want to achieve a negotiated settlement to all the issues associated with this year’s pay round that achieves a fair and just outcome for our members – and at this point in time we’re still relatively optimistic that is achievable.

“It’s clearly in no-one’s interest for the current impasse to escalate into a full-blown dispute – but management need to be mindful that, if a negotiated agreement proves impossible, a statutory industrial action ballot is the only next step available,” Tracey concludes.

Posted: 12th September 2022

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