Dangerous new twist to Capita VMO2/Tesco Mobile pay impasse as mass meeting looms

Telecoms & Financial Services, Capita

An already serious disagreement on pay for members of the Capita VMO2 and Tesco Mobile Partnerships has taken a marked turn for the worse just hours before an online mass meeting of members

That meeting – which will commence at 6.30pm tonight (Tuesday) ­- had been timetabled to mark the start of a consultative ballot on a 4% ‘final’ pay offer that the union believes is ‘derisory’ given spiralling  inflation and an ever-deepening cost of living crisis. (See story here)

With the union’s Telecoms & Financial Services (TFS) constituency’s Capita National Team already urging members to reject what amounts to significant real-term pay cuts for the ex-TUPE population that transferred from Telefonica in 2013 – let alone lower-paid members on the Real Living Wage who are currently scheduled to receive nothing at all – the CWU can now reveal that Capita is also attempting to exclude a significant number of homeworkers from the deal!

Ever since June the union has been involved in a furious behind-scenes row with Capita following the company’s extraordinary declaration that it does not believe the recognised bargaining unit covers homeworkers, unless they were already homeworking at the time of their TUPE transfer from Telefonica.

As such, it is attempting to argue that a  significant number of new employees recruited to work in the VMO2 Partnership following Capita’s Covid-induced embrace of a mass homeworking model are NOT in the recognised part of Capita at all.

That arbitrary – and, the CWU believes, illegal – reinterpretation of the recognition agreement signed by Capita back in 2013 would effectively strip hundreds of workers of their right to have pay collectively bargained by a recognised trade union. If left unchallenged, the company’s current stance would render the rest of the VMO2/Tesco Mobile bargaining unit a shrinking ‘legacy’ rump, such is thescale of the switch to new homeworking contracts under Capita’s post-Covid resourcing model.

However, having taken high-level legal counsel that unequivocally supports the union’s position, CWU national officer Tracey Fussey had been hoping that – presented with evidence of the dubious legality of its actions – Capita would rethink its position.

On July 26 she wrote to Capita’s chief operating officer Paul Stanfield directly quoting the Framework Agreement which, given the company’s current position, almost comically includes the line: ‘For the avoidance of doubt, homeworkers are include in the scope of this agreement.’

Tracey explains: “It’s very much to the credit of the former, now retired, TFS national officer for Capita, Sally Bridge, that she had the foresight to ensure absolute clarity on that front when dealing with the mass-TUPE of members from Telefonica to Capita in 2013.

“Back in 2013 there were only a handful of homeworkers on the O2 contract, but even then Sally foresaw that situations could arise where that could potentially change. That has proved incredibly prescient, not just on account of Covid but also the large-scale switch to homeworking of many of our members.

“It is clearly incredibly dangerous if, at whim, employers start to redefine the terms of legally binding recognition agreements to suit their purposes. Capita have provided no rationale at all to support their position, which is simply astounding.”

Tracey continues: “We’d hoped that, once presented with irrefutable documentation that proves the complete lack of ambiguity or any qualifications whatsoever regarding homeworkers’ inclusion in the recognised bargaining unit, Capita would see sense and back off.However, we’re now left with no option but to challenge their position via the Government’s Central Arbitration Committee.

“As things stand we’re a couple of months into a circular conversation with Capita with them continually reiterating their position and us reiterating ours – and, although management has now asked for a little more time to ‘formalise their position’ we have to be upfront with members that this important issues remains unresolved.

“We’re also being denied access to our homeworking members working on the VMO2 contact, and that is not acceptable to ourselves or our members.

“Tonight we’re going to be talking about a ‘final’ pay offer that doesn’t even come close to maintaining current living standards – but the truth is that the Capita doesn’t believe a significant portion of our membership are covered by the offer anyway!

“I predict fireworks tonight!”

This evening’s Zoom meeting for Capita VMO2 and Tesco members will begin at 6.30pm sharp, and participants should register in advance at:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

This is an opportunity to ask questions to the National Team, please make every effort to attend.