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O2 staff furious about operator’s ‘flippant’ franchise remark

Michael Garwood
November 20, 2012

Suggestion staff should invest £50k to run stores a ‘slap in the face’ according to the The Communication Workers Union

O2 staff have reacted angrily to comments made by the firm’s general manager for retail, Crispin Lowery, encouraging staff to become franchisees.

In the article published in Mobile News last month, Lowery discussed O2’s decision to open up 82 of its 462 retail units to franchise.

He went on to encourage “local entrepreneurs” and “existing staff” to get involved – which would cost up to £50,000.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents the operator’s retail staff, said the article has prompted an “outcry” from its members, who have “grave fears” about their futures.

O2 retail staff who contacted the union said Lowery’s suggestion was a “slap in the face” – with many since asking if his comments were meant as a joke.

One staffer quoted by the CWU said: “I’m struggling to pay to feed my children at the moment.

O2 have announced my store will be franchised out but have given no assurances on pay or pensions and now, like a slap in the face they ask if I want to buy the franchise. Are they for real? I earn £13,000 a year.”

CWU assistant secretary Sally Bridge added: “These are the lowest-paid employees in the company, on an average of £13,500, and it would take them four years to earn the £50,000 franchise price tag, and that’s if they didn’t spend a penny in that period. They simply cannot believe the flippant messages around franchising.

“They will no longer work for O2 once the franchise takes over, meaning they won’t have access to the additional benefits like the company pension which helped to improve the job. No one can give concrete assurances over jobs because we don’t know who the new owners and employers will be.

“These decisions are being taken by people in ivory towers who have no idea what it’s like to work in an O2 shop and what the daily reality of job security means.”

O2 CEO Ronan Dunne, however, insists their will be “no risk” for staff in aaffected stores – but those who are concerned can switch to other stores where possible.

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