O2 imposes pay deal despite rejection by retail staff

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CWU says it has won concessions on how deal will be implemented

O2 has decided to implement a complex new pay arrangement on its retail staff, despite it being rejected by CWU members when it went to a vote last month.

The new pay structure, which was negotiated by the union earlier this year, will see 1,900 members of staff in directly managed O2 stores receive an average pay rise of 14 per cent. It will take effect from July 1st.

The ‘agreement’ will see new starters receive a basic annual salary of £14,500 rising to £16,000 upon completion of a three-month probationary period. Staff are then able to progress to a final pay grade of £18,000 a year subject to a number of criteria including completion of training ‘academy’ modules.

However, quarterly bonus potential was cut to just 10 per cent, down from between 20 and 25 per cent. A number of exemptions were also put in place for staff earning more than £18,000 through a combination of pay and bonuses, to ensure they did not receive a pay cut.

CWU members rejected the new proposals at a June ballot with the CWU blaming confusion over the new pay structure and how it would be implemented.

“In particular, there seemed to be genuine confusion over the fact that total target cash earnings are fully compensated for all of year one, and potentially year two as well – giving longer-serving members plenty of time to complete a new accreditation process that will actually significantly increase base pay for the vast majority of O2 shop staff,” said CWU assistant secretary Sally Bridge who led the negotiations for the union’s members.

“Essentially, we think that a lot of our longer-serving members felt very vulnerable because of fears – which I believe are mistaken – that they won’t be able to demonstrate their ‘advanced level’ skills in time to protect the pay rates they currently enjoy.

“In the light of the ballot result we asked Telefonica not to implement the deal immediately, but the company is adamant that it believes the clear concerns of members can be addressed without having to delay implementation of the new structure which, after all, means more money in the pockets of the majority of Telefonica shop employees.”

After the union’s request to delay implementation of the new structure following the ballot’s result was rejected, it says that follow up discussions yielded a number of concessions from.

These included:

  • Complete visibility over the ‘academy’ process

  • One-on-one assessments from their manager while completing the ‘academy’ module

  • The union being given prior access to the questions that they will have to answer as part of the process

  • An assurance that individuals will be given the choice of completing the modules at work or at home

  • No maximum quotas on those achieving the maximum pay grade.

An O2 spokesperson said: “The CWU were supportive of our proposals and encouraged their members to vote in favour of the changes. We’re working with the union on any further clarification needed.”

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