VMO2 could cull up to 2,000 jobs – report

Virgin Media O2 is reportedly preparing to join UK rivals BT and Vodafone in wielding the axe.

Sources cited by the Mirror over the weekend suggested that anywhere between 800 and 2,000 jobs could go. One claimed that an upcoming pay rise for staff has been moved to 1 August – a day after the redundancies are due to be made – so as to avoid the pay increase being added to redundancy packages.

This will be an unwelcome development for staff who were led to believe they would be able to transfer to a different department.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) in February revealed that talks between itself and VMO2 were underway regarding the future of 1,357 employees whose jobs had been placed ‘at risk’ of potential redundancy.

At the time, the CWU said VMO2 believed there were sufficient and suitable alternative roles available for anyone who wanted them. If the Mirror’s sources are on the money, then that belief seems to have been misplaced.

A statement issued by VMO2 this week was sufficiently vague that no firm conclusion either way can be drawn at this point.

“As part of our continued transformation and integration as a business, we’re consulting with some of our people on proposed changes. We’re working closely with employee representative groups and will continue to support all of our employees through this process,” said a VMO2 spokesperson. “As we are still in the consulting phase, and no decisions have been made, we have no further details to share at this stage.” contacted the CWU to get its take on the development, and will update this story as needed.

As VMO2’s spokesperson points out, the “proposed changes” are part of the ongoing integration between O2 and Virgin Media, which kicked off in summer 2021 after their £31 billion tie-up received final regulatory clearance.

At the time, a joint statement from Virgin and O2’s parents – Liberty Global and Telefónica respectively – said they expected the merged entity to generate synergies of £6.2 billion after integration costs.

Consolidating real estate and eliminating overlapping roles are two well-known ways of generating synergies from a merger, so the prospect of redundancies isn’t wholly surprising. And even if they come in towards the top end of the rumoured 800-2,000 range, VMO2’s redundancies will still be dwarfed by those of BT and Vodafone.

As part of its ongoing transformation into a leaner, meaner outfit, UK incumbent BT in May revealed its long-term ambition to cut staff by up to 55,000 by fiscal 2028-30. Similarly Vodafone is embarking on a turnaround plan enacted by new CEO Margherita Della Valle that will see 11,000 jobs across Europe culled over the next three years.

And if Vodafone manages to pull off its merger with Three, then even more jobs could be on the line as the hunt for those all-important synergies begins. The question arising from all this though, is that with telcos across the country reducing headcount, where are all these redundant telco staff going to find their next job?


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