Virgin Media move to de-recognise trade unions

CWU has been informed by Virgin Media that the company intends to de-recognise its trade unions - by far the biggest of which is CWU.

All members of Virgin Media staff who are part of the Access Division workforce - mostly engineers -will be balloted in a self-proclaimed 'referendum' which opens today (Wednesday November 7) and closes on November 16. CWU was informed in a shock phone call on Friday afternoon and all staff received letters to their homes on Saturday explaining the company's intentions, with just days until the referendum opened.

Virgin Media is effectively (but not directly) asking employees to vote to deny themselves the right to be represented by trade union. Implicitly, employees have been asked to accept that Virgin Media's internal 'Voice Forum' is the best defender of their interests, despite the fact that it's self-evident that a company's own 'employee forum' cannot possibly be as independent as a democratically accountable trade union.

Classic 'union-busting' tactics - including the fact that many of those being balloted are not even in the recognised parts of the company - mean Virgin Media is virtually certain to get the result it wants. If so, the company will likely serve a three-month notice period on all current recognition agreements.

Andy Kerr
CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: "The CWU is nothing short of astonished at Virgin Media's decision to effectively declare war on the UK trade union movement in general, and its own employees' democratically elected representatives in particular.

"This derecognition move is not just entirely unprovoked but flies in the face of the public image that the entire Virgin Group has spent years cultivating for itself as an ethical and socially responsible entity.

"Virgin is always talking about the importance of 'trust' - indeed it specifically lists 'trust' as its core corporate value - yet the union-busting activity it has apparently embarked upon begs the question as to how much this company can actually be trusted.

"In the CWU we thought we were working in partnership with Virgin Media - but now discover the company has been working behind the scenes to stab us in the back."

Early indications show the company's actions are generating a sense of outrage amongst staff - reflected in a sudden surge in new CWU membership applications.

Andy's message to Virgin Media and members alike is unequivocal: "Rest assured, the CWU is not in the business of walking away and abandoning its members. We intend to continue the fight for better working conditions in Virgin Media - and we intend to continue to grow our membership. We're not going anywhere!"

CWU is encouraging people to vote to retain union recognition in the ballot.

CWU has members in engineering and call centre roles but only has recognition for collective bargaining for parts of the engineering workforce.

CWU immediately sent a letter to members on Monday setting out the union's position in response to this news and is in constant contact with reps and concerned staff at the company. More recently, John East wrote to the Executive Director of Access, Maurice Daw expressing the union's disappointment at the company's decision to de-recognise trade unions.

Read the letter to members >here<
Read the letter to Maurice Daw, 16th November 2012.

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