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Vodafone won't recognise union

Row goes to arbitration

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Vodafone is still refusing to officially recognise the Connect union, which is so keen to represent its members it has taken Vodafone to the government's Central Arbitration Committee to force recognition.

Over half the 200 people working at Vodafone's "Technology: Regional Operations North" office are already members of Connect, which means recognition can be forced on Vodafone to allow collective bargaining on pay, hours, and holiday.

Connect has been fighting for recognition since November last year, and recently went to ACAS with Vodafone in an attempt to negotiate a deal, without success.

Vodafone does not recognise unions in the UK, though its operations in Germany and Ireland do have representation. Vodafone said in a statement it has elected to "follow the statutory recognition route" - which translates as refusing to recognise any union until the law tells it it has to.

"Vodafone continues to value open and direct communication with its employees" - The key word here being "direct", as in not via collective bargaining.

Union membership in high-technology industries has, traditionally, not been very high - when employees can change jobs every month there seems little cause for collective bargining. But as the industry grows up and consolidation constrains the job market, union membership starts to look more attractive.

Connect is currently recognised by BT, O2 and Kingston Communications, though it has members at most of the comms companies, so we can expect similar disputes over the next few years. ®

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