Is Connect44 vying for the ‘Christmas 2022 Scrooge of the Year’ accolade?

Telecoms & Financial Services



It’s a fiercely contested league table of shame, with no end of ‘race to the bottom’ companies vying for pole position when it comes to plunging the depths…

But imagine how you’d feel if your demonstrably profitable employer responded to the worst cost of living crisis in a generation by justifying – in true Dickensian fashion – real-term pay cuts to fund“strategic investment decisions”.

That’s exactly the unenviable situation a small group of CWU members working for telecommunications service provider Connect44 find themselves in just over five years after they were TUPE transferred from Huawei in October 2017.

Since then the outsourced former Telefonica O2 employees have been through hard times indeed  – receiving no pay rise at all in 2019 and a below inflation award in 2021 before finally  being told it was a big fat zero once again for 2022…six months after their January pay review date had come and gone.

You might have thought that even the most Ebenezer Scrooge-like employer would flinch at giving nothing at all in 2022 – with even the Government’s preferred CPI inflation measure currently confirming an 11.1% year-on-year pay cut. (RPI inflation is currently standing at 14.2% today and likely to be even higher when the next inflation figures are announced tomorrow).

Not, however, it seems, Connect 44…

Indeed, the company has now compounded its refusal to pay any rise at all in 2022 by questioning the very legitimacy of the recognised CWU bargaining unit that was legally guaranteed under the terms of both the 2012 and 2017 TUPE transfers.

Late last month the small but tight-knit group of CWU members – who still work exclusively on VM02 systems a decade after their initial outsourcing by Telefonica – packed out a specially convened online meeting to discuss their situation.

And following an unequivocal display of members’ resolve to make a stand, last week CWU national officer Tracey Fussey fired off her latest salvo to management – announcing the CWU’s intention to hold a consultative ballot on the zero per cent pay ‘offer’ that has caused such hurt and anger.

“As you are aware, the CWU is committed to achieving a pay rise for our members who find your response so far both insulting and unjustifiable,” Tracey told Connect44’s UK HR manager.

“Our research into Connect44 does not suggest that this is an issue of affordability – more so a choice in suppressing pay.

“You are imposing one of the biggest pay cuts in real terms –  which, given the challenges the cost of living is bringing to our members, is a situation that is simply untenable.”

Tracey told CWU News: “Even now I’d urge Connect44 to reconsider a position that, apart from being completely immoral, is totally out of kilter with the way that most employers are responding to the challenges the cost of living crisis is presenting their staff.

“It’s impossible to overstate the hurt, indignation, anger and complete disbelief that our members in Connect44  are feeling – and I’m confident that will be reflected loud and clear in the forthcoming consultative ballot.”

  • Voting papers associated with the consultative ballot will be sent out to all members in Connect44 at the start of the New Year.