Patience snaps on Capita O2/Tesco Mobile pay

Telecoms & Financial Services, Capita

Capita has been pointedly reminded of its own publicly stated values over the importance of employee engagement and a ‘transparent and fair approach to reward’ following months of stonewalling on the CWU’s pay claim for all O2 and Tesco Mobile contract staff.

More than a month after the operative pay review date of January 1, members are becoming increasingly frustrated and annoyed that an increase is already six weeks overdue, amid indications that neither Partnership feel able to progress talks with the union prior to a higher-level directive from Capita Group management.

As such, the CWU’s claim for a ‘significant consolidated increase in base rate pay for all CWU represented grade employees’ is effectively stuck in abeyance, with no sign as to when the impasse will be broken.

In a plain-speaking letter emailed to both Capita O2 and Capita Tesco Mobile Partnerships’ management on Friday (February 7), CWU assistant secretary Brendan O’Brien observed: “Meetings have been deferred and cancelled awaiting direction from Capita Group – and this is unacceptable to our members and cannot be allowed to continue.

“CWU members expect to be treated with respect and are starting to feel that they and their representatives are being deliberately undermined by the lack of engagement on pay.

“The situation may be outside the control of the Partnership, but it is the Partnership that manages our members’ daily lives and it is the Partnership that is being seen as responsible for this situation, not Capita Group.”

The CWU was already aware that talks on this year’s pay round were going to be complicated by an announcement last year by Capita CEO Jon Lewis that the company would pay a minimum of the Real Living Wage (RWL) across its operations from April next year.

At the time of that announcement the RLW – which is the amount the Living Wage Commission believes is the bare minimum required to cover the real cost of living – stood at £9 for those living and working outside London. In November, however, that hourly rate was increased to £9.30, which any organisations accredited as RLW employers are obliged to pay by April 1, 2020.

At present Capita pays a minimum of the legal minimum wage, which is £8.21 per hour for the over-25s – though, in practice, the lowest hourly rates for staff employed on Capita contracts in each of the CWU’s recognised bargaining units is £8.83. That means a shift to the RLW would certainly benefit a significant number of members employed on Capita contracts, but not the higher-paid TUPE population on legacy contracts in both Partnerships.

That’s why the union’s initial pay claim called for an increase in the overall base pay bill, allowing for flexibility in negotiations as to how it is divided between the two groups – narrowing pay discrepancies but also ensuring that everyone receives a decent cost of living increase.

The detail of the claim submitted by the CWU is:

  • That the RLW rate be backdated to the review date of January 1, rather than what is projected as being April 1.
  • That the CWU would also want confirmation that Capita is committed to automatically introducing further increases in the RLW in line with the Living Wage Foundation’s recommendations.
  • That a 3% minimum increase is given to those whose basic hourly rate is greater than the RLW.
  • That a 3% minimum increase is given to those who, on moving up to the RLW would receive a pay rise of less than 3%.

Reminding the management of both Partnerships that this year’s pay review is already seriously behind schedule, and that the CWU expects any deal ultimately agreed to be backdated to January 1, Brendan’s letter to management concludes: “Our members are becoming more agitated and angry about this situation. They work to live, not live to work, and are seeing their purchasing power diminishing due to rising travel and other costs.

“The CWU insists that pressure is applied to whoever is leading in Capita Group to engage with the union, explain its position and be open and transparent.”

  • This pay claim predominantly covers CWU members in Capita O2 and Capita Tesco Mobile working in Bury, Preston Brook and Leeds ABC.