VT unions lobby shareholders on pay freeze

VT unions lobby shareholders on pay freeze

Unions representing thousands of staff at VT Group will lobby the company’s shareholders when they meet to vote on the proposed takeover by Babcock. The unions are campaigning against VT's decision, announced by Chief Executive Paul Lester, to implement a pay freeze across the Group despite the company's record profits of £108 million in 2009.

“We are dismayed by the Chief Executive’s edict on pay – in a business that consists of numerous contracts and many separate collective bargaining units. The refusal to negotiate pay with representatives in the individual bargaining units has caused serious damage to industrial relations across the group,” said Prospect negotiations officer John Ferrett.

Union members across the VT Group have overwhelmingly rejected the company’s approach on pay in a series of ballots and efforts are now being made to co-ordinate industrial action on a number of VT contracts. Prospect proposes to ballot its members working on the Flagship Naval Training Contract for strike action.

“Members have had enough of seeing their hard work rewarded with a real terms pay cut, while directors are awarded tens of thousands of bonus shares because of the increased productivity within the business. Furthermore, they see it as dishonest that the company use guaranteed contractual uplifts from the government, intended to cover cost-of-living increases for staff, to fund profits rather than pay,” said Ferrett.

Unions are also concerned at the implications of the takeover of VT by Babcock. The takeover is likely to result in rationalisation, office closures and job cuts in order to achieve £50 million of savings by 2013.

“Despite demanding clarity from both VT and Babcock on the impact of the takeover on members’ terms and conditions, pensions and future job security there has been no attempt to consult the unions on the effect of the takeover. This is scandalous given that the proposed date for completion of the deal is less than a month away” said Ferrett.