Cost of living concerns escalated at 14forty

Telecoms & Financial Services

The CWU has pledged to persist in its efforts to secure an additional ‘cost of living’ pay increase at 14forty despite an initial knockback from the outsourced facilities services provider.

Back in January members working for 14forty at the CWU-represented Capita sites in Leeds, Preston Brook and Glasgow received a long campaigned for uplift to the Real Living Wage after years of lobbying by the union.

But although that meant a highly welcome 6.7% pay rise for staff just after Christmas – and a further 40p per hour increase to the new RLW (outside London) rate of £9.90 when that came into force in April – both rises have effectively been negated by the current cost of living crisis.

CWU national officer Tracey Fussey explains: “While the uplifts our members received in January and April were obviously hugely welcome, they were intended to redress a long-standing problem of low pay that way preceded the current cost of living crisis.

“April’s RLW increase was based on judgements over the minimum salary required to sustain a standard of life that goes beyond mere survival that were made last November – well before inflation took off to levels not seen in 40 years.

“With the time-honoured RPI inflation measure currently sitting at 11.1% – and even the typically lower CPI measure standing at 9%, and expected to soon reach 11% – the current RLW rate of £9.90 has simply not provided the cost of living uplift that is needed.”

Even the Government accepts that the real inflation rate impacting low paid workers far exceeds the published inflation figures, because skyrocketing fuel and food prices gobble up a greater proportion of low incomes.

Tracey continues: “Back in May we put it to 14forty that, even with the increase to the RLW mitigating some of the pain, our members are still experiencing an effective pay cut in real terms because of high inflation rates – something that is simply unsustainable.

“A response has now been received that, as they are now aligned to Capita, salaries will increase every April in line with the RLW – which will next be reviewed in November, with any increase upon at that time being implemented in April 2023.

“Though 14forty has made it clear it is sympathetic to the challenge the cost of living crisis is bringing, the company has advised that it is not in a position to be able to increase rates further without agreement and funding from Capita.”

At present, parallel pay talks with Capita are ongoing.

Stressing that the CWU recognises 14forty’s limitations for manoeuvre in the fiercely competitive outsourced facilities services market, Tracey welcomed a number of initiatives being promoted by the company to support employees including:

  • Encouraging individuals to explore the possibility of working their weekly hours over fewer days to reduce their travel-to-work expenditure
  • Offering overtime to employees in preference to the use agency labour to enhance individuals’ earning potential.

But she concludes: “Whilst the CWU welcomes any initiatives to support members through these difficult times, ultimately only significant pay rises can address the disproportional impact the cost of living crisis is having on lower paid workers.

“As such, we’ll continue raising our concerns with 14forty – particularly as all respected inflation forecasts suggest that an already unsustainable situation is poised to get even worse.”