Connect fights Voda pay freeze


Vodafone has not given a reasonable explanation for imposing a pay freeze on its UK workforce, union Connect said last month as it sought meetings with representatives from the network.

Vodafone announced in March that it would freeze salaries and bonuses for all its 10,000 UK staff as part of its strategy to cut £1 billion in costs, as well as cutting 500 jobs.

In a memo to staff, chief executive Guy Laurence said it was a “tough” but “responsible” decision to make and that agreeing to pay rises this year would have meant increasing the number of redundancies being made. Staff with company cars were also asked to keep them for longer.

A Connect spokesman said the union had requested meetings with Vodafone to “assess and agree a way forward” on pay for 2009.

He said: “While blanket emails on pay have been sent out by the business, we have had no proposal from the business in line with what is required through the union recognition agreement and we have not received a rationale or explanation for a zero rise.

“We would expect such a proposal to be robust, verifiable and potentially reflect a business that was making no profit, paying no share dividends and giving no rises for senior managers and executives. In addition we would expect a business looking to make such a proposal to give proper consideration to alternatives. At this stage we see no evidence of them doing so.”

The spokesman said Vodafone had assured Connect it understood the need to hold discussions on pay and had suggested holding them jointly with Ericsson, where a number of staff have been outsourced to.

A meeting had been proposed for April 8 but the Connect spokesman said: “Despite many reminders Vodafone did not arrange one and it continues to offer no explanation as to why doing so has proven impossible for several weeks. We have held a conference call but we have made clear to Vodafone and Ericsson that this is inadequate.”

Vodafone responded with the folllowing statement: “We have recently communicated with our people about pay and reward. The Vodafone UK Executive Board has decided that there will be no pay rise for this coming financial year (2009/10). 

“If a salary rise had been agreed, it would have forced us to increase the number of redundancies made recently. This is a tough decision to make, but a responsible one.

“We have also explained that the employee bonus scheme is not currently on track to pay out for this year.  By focussing relentlessly on our customers we believe that the rewards will come for everyone.”