United in defiance on Connect44’s skipped 2022 pay review

Telecoms & Financial Services, Connect44

Members at Connect44 have delivered an emphatic thumbs down to the company’s assertion that they must endure a 0% pay rise in 2022 to help the profitable business fund ‘strategic investment decisions’.

Just before Christmas the CWU issued an eleventh hour plea to bosses to reconsider their position, pointing out that freezing pay at a time of rampant inflation has resulted in substantial real term pay cuts for the small but tight-knit group of members who still work exclusively on Virgin Media 02 systems a decade after their initial outsourcing by Telefonica.

And now the scale of employee anger within the bargaining unit has been revealed for all to see – despite the curiously-timed imposition of a 5% company-wide pay rise for 2023 that was suddenly announced, without consultation, shortly after a CWU consultative ballot on the non-existent pay offer for 2022 got underway!

Amid suspicions by some that the shotgun rise might have been an attempt to deter participation in the ballot by confusing the issue, the move appears to have had the opposite effect. By the time the ballot closed at 10am yesterday (Wednesday), the union’s Connect44 membership had recorded resolute 100% rejection of the non-existent 2022 ‘offer’ on an 86% turnout.

Thanking members for their crystal-clear verdict, CWU national officer Tracey Fussey said: “Unanimous ballot results may be rare, but our members aren’t fools and could immediately see that a 5% rise for the whole of 2023 – imposed at a time when inflation is running at more than double that level – is no compensation whatsoever for a pay standstill in 2022.

“People can tell at the tills that static wages at a time of high inflation mean-real term pay cuts – and even going by the Government’s preferred Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation measure, an effective pay freeze in the 2022 calendar year translates into a 10.5% reduction in their spending power during that period.

“The strong message we’re hearing from our Connect44 membership is that the 5% increase that has just been imposed is pretty paltry for 2023 alone – and that it certainly doesn’t deal with the lack of any rise at all in 2022.

“None of our research into Connect44 suggests that this is an issue of affordability – more so a choice in suppressing pay – and in the coming weeks important decisions will need to be made as to how we progress this issue if management doesn’t change tack.

“Even now, however, I’d urge management to urgently 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.”

A fortnight ago today, at the outset of the ballot, Tracey escalated the issue to senior management level – warning that the “brewing dispute will only bring focus on what is an incredibly poor situation.”

Speaking this morning to CWU News, Tracey confirmed that no response had yet been forthcoming, but that Connect44’s UK director, Mike Dakin, has now been informed of the ballot result, and the union is awaiting his response.