CWU has been informed by Virgin Media that it intends to de-recognise its trade unions – the CWU and BECTU – for collective bargaining purposes. CWU, which is by far the biggest union in Virgin Media, sees this as a major setback for the rights of staff to defend their pay and conditions through an independent trade union.
Virgin Media gave no prior warning of its plans and within a matter of days the company opened a referendum asking staff if they agree with its proposal. Voting started on Wednesday and lasts just ten days and is open to all staff in the ‘Access Division’, many of whom are not covered by the CWU or BECTU recognition agreements. Many staff are telling CWU they are suspicious of the referendum process because it is being run by a company which is not an authorised independent scrutineer and is regularly engaged by Virgin Media.
Virgin Media is telling staff it thinks its employee forum is more representative than a trade union, even though the employee forum does not negotiate on any issue and will not decide pay.
Andy Kerr (Pictured), CWU deputy general secretary, said: “We are extremely disappointed with Virgin Media’s announcement and the sudden manner in which it has been made. If Virgin Media de-recognises its unions this will strike a major blow against ordinary working people who want their interests properly represented in the workplace.
“Since Virgin Media’s announcement we have been inundated with calls from concerned members and non members alike who fear what plans the company has in store to alter their terms and conditions of work. Ironically this attack on the democratic rights of the workforce is already leading to an increase in our membership.”
Andy’s message to Virgin Media is unequivocal: “The CWU is not in the business of walking away and abandoning its members. We intend to continue the fight for better working conditions in Virgin Media – and we intend to continue to grow our membership throughout the company.”
CWU has members in engineering and call centre roles but only has recognition for collective bargaining for parts of the engineering workforce.