Virgin Media is in talks with staff about continuing to negotiate pay and conditions through a collective bargaining process, rather than through unions.
The company is aiming to deal with the discussions through an independent forum but the Communications Workers Union has attacked the move as a 'major setback for the rights of staff' and accused Virgin Media of moving to de-recognise unions. Virgin Media denied this and said staff will be able to have union membership and representation if they wish.
Consultation with staff began on Wednesday (7 November) and ends on 17 November. Virgin Media is hoping to negotiate pay and conditions through a staff forum.
Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said: '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.'
In a statement, a Virgin Media spokesman said: 'We're currently asking some of our staff in the field whether collective bargaining deals struck many years ago, well before Virgin Media even existed, are still the best way to negotiate pay and working conditions.
'Over the years we’ve built independent and well established forums where employees represent each other to ensure they all have an inclusive say in company decision making. Following strong feedback from our people, we now want to understand what the majority want. This referendum is only open to those who would be directly impacted by these agreements and a vote to end them has no bearing on an individual's choice to be a union member.'
Editor: Graeme Neill