back to article Carphone Warehouse resolves union site ambiguity

Carphone Warehouse has resolved the confusion surrounding the blocking of a union website, by explaining that the company provides for all employees' needs, thus making the union redundant. CarphoneWorker is run by the Communication Workers Union and provides information for the several-hundred union members employed by CPW, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it has something to do with this....

    Erm, looking at the blocked union site, on the 21st April they had a story headed "Outreach day - union visits every large Carphone site in England" and includes the snippet "The aim is to alert workers to the existence of this site as a resource, as well as to make employees aware of some of their rights to be listened to. "

    So, just maybe, that had something to do with the site being banned???? Hmm...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Useful link

    Having read the report on their website about call centres, I can now say that I feel slightly more sympathetic to the lot of the poor automata staffing them.

    Stress and anxiety due to poor workplace environment - don't we know it.

    However, it will not in any likelihood change my day to day dealings with call centre staff who ring me and bother me while I am trying to do my work. Especially those working from obvious scripts, who will have to deal with my deliberately strong regional accent, offhand approach and bluntness

    Anon in case one day, I have to ring them

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Regardless of the fact that they don't recognise the union my (admittedly patchy) understanding of the law is that its not permitted to obstruct members from joining a union. Isin't that what Carphone Warehouse are doing here by preventing them from visiting a union site?

  4. Craig McLean

    RE: Illegal?

    (so many ACs in this thread....)

    No it's not stopping anyone joining the union, it's banning access to a website - like many companies already do (places like facebook and myspace are good examples here). You might as well say they are "obstructing members from joining the union" because they won't give them free stamps, envelopes and pens to fill out their applications.

    It is a bit po-faced though.

    Now get that jerked knee back down where it belongs.

  5. Christoph

    Perhaps this could be extended

    I'm sure Plod would like to take up that line of argument:

    "You already have established ways of communicating and consulting with the judge and the prosecution, so you have no need of a defence lawyer".

  6. chris

    Expect more

    We used to get barred from leaving union newsletters on colleagues' desks and had to stand outside in the foyer (but not outside the building) handing the things out.

    There's no limit to companies' pettiness when it comes to dealing with unions (or any group of its workers). Expect more of this as the economic crisis bites and managers look to cut from the bottom and fire at will.

  7. Cody

    preventing them ?

    How can they prevent them? Are they inspecting their home computers to see what they are doing in the evenings? That is absolutely terrible, and a violation of their rights, and must be stopped at once. These goons wasting shareholders money by travelling up and down the country, breaking into the homes of their staff and inspecting their machines? Can this really be happening in England?

    Oh, my partner comes into the room as I write these lines, and tells me not to be such an idiot, they are only restricting what sites the workforce can access from work. Oh. Well that's perfectly normal isn't it? I mean, they are supposed to be working not surfing?

    Or have I misunderstood this yet again, and should we want there to be no restrictions on what I do at work on the web in this great country of ours?

    Dunno really. All very confusing. I will sign off now before I get told something else confusing. Bye.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why so much attention?

    Why is this even news?

    Companies are perfectly entitled to determine how employees use their work computers. They're under no obligation to provide internet access at all so why should blocking access to one particular site be a breach of anyone's rights? It's not the same as restricting union activities per se or preventing staff using their own computers in their own time.

    I'm a member of the CWU myself and inclined to identifiy with the huddled masses but I don't understand why this has attracted so much attention.

    My own CWU branch advises its members only to use the net at work for business purposes, although this goes beyond my employerr's policy on the matter. I take the view that anything I do on a work computer isn't private so tend to avoid any activities, however trivial, that could be used as ammunition against me.

    I must admit, having briefly glimpsed the site in question, I wish my own union branch would publish something as good for its own members.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 16:14

    They could just limit access to the intrawebs altogether as not necessary to do your job. There is nothing that states you have a right to internet access at all while at work.

    Having worked in the Acton call centre for CPW, I can tell you that I found it to be a very pleasant place to work, that it was VERY competitive environment (which I found to be a good thing) and that the need for a union is ridiculous. Seriously, unionization is only going to hurt employee's benefits, not help them. Sure, they may get breaks on time and of certain lengths, but there will also be an end to most company sponsored functions, events, prizes, etc. I had a few coworkers go to Hawaii, Australia, etc. on the company's money. And quite a few laptops, free phones, iPods, etc. were to be had if you worked hard enough.

    Typically, unions are an attempt by people who can show up every day, but don't feel like working very hard to get rewarded for that fact. And the second a company rewards for longevity, not merit, it is sunk. If el Reg lost its sense of humour altogether, would you continue to read? After all, you've been reading it this long, right?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    whaaaaaa ...?

    This is ILLEGAL. You CANNOT prevent anyone from joining/participating in a union.


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 18:51

    Working in a CPW centre, and having been watching developments unfold, it's not so much that they've blocked access to the website, it's more the process by which they've followed to end up blocking it.

    Basically, they've lied to us, the staff, to Bill Ray at el Reg, and to the Union.

    We'll be damned if we can get anything in writing out of them, and we'll be damned if we can get any real assurances that the issues the Union is highlighting on the website in question are completely out of kilter with reality, and that we really are going to work our contracted hours without being forced to finish later/start earlier/sleep on bunks in the basement, get paid for doing our jobs properly, not get penalised for stupid things like trying to HELP PEOPLE WHO CALL US, etc.

    No matter what you might think from your one or two phonecalls to Jamil in India, there are good people in CPW/TalkTalk/Opal who WANT to help you, who get their BUZZ from fixing your issues, and these people are being driven out.

    Rather than deal with these issues, CPW have essentially stuck their fingers in their ears and are screaming LALALALALAL I CAN'T HEAR YOU at the top of their voices. Perhaps that's why people are frustrated enough to keep coming back to the issue? Perhaps, as CPW clearly don't respect their employees or any Union, this is why we come to El Reg, in the hope that we may embarass the PR-hungry pratts into treating us more like human beings.

    If you really want, take the Famous Carphone Warehouse Five Fundamentals (you can google them), make each statement negative, and replace the word "customer" with "employee".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A customer view

    As a two time customer of this bloody company I reckon that morale must be on the floor because I never once get even an apology for them missing the promised delivery date for a SIM free phone I bought and when they supplied me with the wrong aerial for an old mobile I had (which was a solid Ericsson S868) and I rang up to ask for an exchange for the correct part the response was a very blunt What do you want me to do about it?" so I ended up going to the store.

    I don't think the company should block this site but I am of the opinion that the company is crap (company and employees) and deserves to disappear.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Unfortionately, since the Milk Snatcher, you can go out of your way to keep unions out of your business and off your site. You can refuse to recognise a union, unless there is a majority within the comany who want a union. You can even close a branch down if it looks like they have a majority who want a union. It's imorral and idiotic, but not illigal.

    It's a good job that we've had a socialist government for the last 12 years (?) who can sort this out. Err...

    From the point of view of the company it's also pretty stupid, a well run union can work to the advantage of the company by giving the staff a mouthpiece and method to talk to the business.

    Anyway, CPW just made the list of companies I won't deal with.

  14. Lionel Baden

    mobile access

    do you think the union have a mobile compatible access ??? :D

  15. chris

    lol anti-union trollfail @19.29

    "Sure, they may get breaks on time and of certain lengths, but there will also be an end to most company sponsored functions, events, prizes, etc. I"

    Sure, we have the 8 hour day now thanks to the labour movement, but it's meant an end to company sponsored beds under the loom, has broken up families by making the kids go to school instead of work.

    @ 18.51: More seriously, a union website is pretty arguably related to "business purposes", more so than most of what folk would access. (Though I'd be reluctant to post anything on a work-related forum from work)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Fraser

    Law was changed in 1997. People do have less rights now than they did in 1906, apparently, but I'd suggest a perusal of specifically the section headed "Introducing your new rights"

    "A new law is now in force that gives all workers, including casual workers and agency workers, a new right to be accompanied either by a trade union representative or a colleague at a workplace disciplinary or grievance hearing.

    This new right applies in all companies and organisations however large or small, and it does not matter whether or not your employer normally deals with a trade union."

    Anyhow, I won't deal with Carphone Whorehouse now, either. Like you say.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As I understood it, you have a right to be represented by a Union rep and a right to be a member of a union, but the company doesn't have to recognise that union or deal with them outside the context of a disciplinary. I would happily be corrected though.

  18. Simon B
    Gates Horns

    CarPhone WareHouse can treat them like crap again now

    CarPhone WareHouse are silencing the masses, they can now treat then all like crap as the employees have no backup anymore.

  19. Dave


    I take it that you were not around in the seventies and eighties, when the big unions decided to go on strike every time one of their comrades sneezed, and subsequently destroyed what little remained of British heavy industry?

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Assuming you don't get fired..

    Looks like there's a few CPW employees posting here. How much to buy a VPN, call it and <?php redirect(); ?>?

    Tux, 'coz everyone knows Linux is for hackers.

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