The CWU has been conducting a series of meetings with members and other employees in the former Silcar Communications as part of the process of negotiating a transition to a unified field workforce in Visionstream in 2018.
As reported in previous E-bulletins, the consolidation of a number of former Leighton companies under the single umbrella of Ventia (still trading as Visionstream) involves bringing together groups of workers who have been employed on quite different conditions.
There is a significant difference between the wages and entitlements of those currently covered by the Silcar Communications agreement (which reached its nominal expiry date late last year) and those on the Visionstream Fieldwork Agreement – as much as 16%, depending on classification levels.
Visionstream management have said they want to negotiate a transitional arrangement prior to 2018 (when the Fieldwork Agreement will come up for renegotiation) that will bring Silcar conditions closer to those in Visionstream while leaving Silcar employees no worse off than they are now.
Management says this might involve “buying out” some entitlements and grandfathering others. At the same time, of course, it recognises that any agreement needs to deliver a real wage rise to Silcar employees.
At consultation meetings, Silcar employees have expressed some justifiable scepticism about a process that is quite explicitly designed to bring their pay and conditions more closely in line with those in the Fieldwork Agreement, even if that happens over several years.
But a fuller assessment of the approach will only be possible when there are more detailed proposals to consider, including of course the money value of any cashing out of current entitlements. Negotiations around these issues is set to recommence in the coming weeks.