Overwhelming ‘YES’ vote in Virgin Media O2 pay ballot

Telecoms & Financial Services, VMO2

Members across Virgin Media O2 have voted by nearly nine-to-one to accept a CWU-brokered pay deal which delivers fully consolidated rises for all CWU represented grade employees in excess of 7, 8 or 9% this year – plus a cash lump sum of £400 to be paid in June.

The company’s final offer – clinched following an eleventh-hour agreement by management to pay an additional 0.5% consolidated award to individuals for whom no automatic pay progression arrangements are in place – was accepted by 86.5% of members participating in a consultative ballot which closed yesterday (Thursday).

Taking both consolidated and unconsolidated elements into consideration, the deal is worth just over 10% in cash terms this year for members working in O2 stores.

But even with the skewing of the deal towards lower paid workers, who’ve been hardest hit by the cost of living crisis, the proposed settlement is still worth 6.2% consolidated plus the £400 lump sum for the union’s highest paid members in the CWU’s recognised bargaining unit – namely legacy NewGRID ‘C’ grade employees earning up to £50,000.

All other CWU-represented employees in Virgin Media O2 receive consolidated increases in the median salary for their grade of between 7.1 and 8.8% – before the £400 unconsolidated payment and additional 0.5% for specific grades are taken into consideration.

A detailed breakdown of how the offer applies to the whole spectrum of CWU-represented grades is contained in Virgin Media O2 Members’ Bulletin No.79/2023 but the main component elements of the deal include:

  • The 2% consolidated increase for 2023/24 that Virgin Media O2 attempted to impose last year – prior to the industrial action ballot that secured the company’s agreement that 2% was simply a starting point for this year’s talks
  • An additional £1,500 consolidated increase on annual basic salaries for all employees earning under £50,000 (pro-rated for part-time employees) –  payable, alongside the 2%, from August 1 this year
  • A non-consolidated payment of £400 (not pro-rated), in recognition that this year’s pay review is being implemented later than usual, being made in June salaries
  • A firm commitment by management to review pay progression arrangements for those who do not currently have them prior to the 2024 salary review – with a view to understanding how this could be harmonised with the rest of the organisation – and the 0.5% consolidated rise in the interim for those either at or below the middle of their pay range.

Thanking members for their “support and patience” throughout the pay talks and ensuing ballot, CWU national officer Tracey Fussey told CWU News: “From the outset of negotiations, the National Team was 100% focussed on the need to secure a meaningful rise across the entire CWU-represented grade range that reflects the fact that, while inflation is predicted to fall sharply later this year, the cost of living crisis is anything but over.

“We’re therefore very pleased that the scale of the ‘YES’ vote shows members share our view that that this year’s settlement will go a long way to restoring the value of base salaries before the next pay review date – while simultaneously addressing the immediate cost of living challenges that we know our members are facing.

“This is undoubtedly at the top end of pay settlements across the whole of British industry at present, and for that our members in Virgin Media O2 have every reason to be proud of their rock solid rejection of the two year settlement the company tried to impose last year.