Clamour for collective bargaining rights amongst Capita VMO2 contract homeworkers

Telecoms & Financial Services, Capita, VMO2

Homeworkers recruited into Capita’s VMO2 contract since Covid have delivered the clearest indication yet of their anger at the denial of union recognition rights that have long been enjoyed by their longer-serving colleagues.

Scores of the effectively disenfranchised group attended a special online meeting organised by the CWU last week to gauge member sentiment on the issue in advance of a potentially pivotal meeting with management at which the union will present the compelling case for a rethink.

“There was no mistaking the strength of feeling of those on last Wednesday’s Zoom call,” stresses CWU National Officer Tracey Fussey. “The sense of injustice was palpable and they really do not understand why the company are treating them negatively or why our pay bargaining is not being extended to themselves.

“While the recent pay settlement is not without significant implementation problems that we are currently discussing with the company, Capita’s refusal to apply it to members employed post-pandemic means a wedge is being driven between colleagues conducting identical work for the same client.”

Capita has sought to justify the move saying: “Those homeworkers that have been recruited nationally fall into the same category of those recruited for a non-recognised site (ie: Dearne Valley) as they were not part of the TUPE population in 2013”.

But the fact the individuals in question – who account for a significant and growing proportion of those working on the VMO2 contract – have been excluded from the established collective bargaining unit means that, alongside the rest of Capita’s unrecognised workforce, their pay rises are simply pegged to increases in the Real Living Wage. No opportunity therefore exists for negotiated rises above that level that have been routinely achieved by the CWU for their longer serving counterparts in the recognised area.

Dismay at Capita’s unilateral decision to effectively cut new homeworker recruits out of the recognised area has been steadily building since 2022 – with the CWU issuing successive demands for a rethink, all of which have, to date, been rebuffed.

But after nearly two years of lobbying by the union, Capita has now agreed to meet with the CWU to discuss the whole range of issues faced by homeworkers.

“The fact that news of this development resulted in our Dearne Valley-badged VMO2 contract membership joining last Wednesday’s Zoom meeting in their droves is very telling indeed,” stresses Tracey.

“It was abundantly clear that there is absolute dismay at the fact they are being treated differently from their longer-serving colleagues – and a real clamour for their issues to be addressed by a recognised trade union.

“What was most encouraging of all was their enthusiasm to get involved and the way they are recruiting their friends and colleagues into the CWU to help achieve this end.”

Capita national team chair Lawrence McIntosh   – who is also chair of the CWU’s Preston Brook, Bury & Retail Branch – agrees: “It’s our firm belief that remote workers – either full-time remote or hybrid – should be considered as workers, with the same rights and conditions as the on-site workforce, including full health and safety protections.

“The Covid-19 crisis has shown there are risks linked to remote work, including increased isolation and mental health issues, intensified workloads and a blurring of professional and private life. As such we simply don’t believe the exclusion of these homeworkers from the recognised bargaining unit is fair – not least because they  do exactly the same work for exactly the same client as our members who are badged to the recognised sites.”

Tracey concludes: “We’re pleased that Capita has now agreed to a meeting, and will keep members updated accordingly by way of regular Zoom meetings.”


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