Assurances demanded of VMO2 as 49 are placed at risk of redundancy

Telecoms & Financial Services, Virgin Media

Intensive discussions are underway  with Virgin Media O2 (VMO2)  following the company’s announcement yesterday (Thursday) of 10 stores closures and a root and branch restructuring  of its Business to Business (B2B)  Revenue Operations team, in line with its programme to integrate the Virgin Media and O2 businesses.

News of  the upheavals   – which have resulted in a total of 49 being placed ‘at risk’ of redundancy – was briefed to devastated staff at the O2 stores earmarked for closure throughout the day. Meanwhile, members in Revenue Operations were left pondering the implications of a series of interrelated announcements that have placed eight individuals ‘at risk’ – even though the CWU understands the ultimate headcount reduction being sought by the company in that area totals just two, given opportunities that are available to remain with the business in continued employment.

Yesterday’s shock announcement means 41 stores employees are  facing the very real prospect of redundancy following news that the Southampton (Hedge End), Swindon (Next Orbital), Brighton (Churchill Square), Cardiff (Queen Street), Croydon (Whitgift Centre), Edinburgh (Princes Street), London (Holborn & Notting Hill Gate), Nottingham (Giltbrook) and Warrington (Gemini Retail) O2 shops will close permanently on March 31.

Formal consultation has now commenced, with the CWU moving immediately to impress on management that it expects every effort to be made by the company to identify redeployment and reskilling opportunities within the business for affected employees. 

That undertaking has been given, along with the assurance that any employee at risk will be prioritised for internal vacancies,

VMO2 has also confirmed that, wherever possible, the job losses will be conducted voluntarily, as set out in Telefonica O2 UK Members’ Bulletin no.14/2022

Stressing  the union will be leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to ensure that no-one is forced out of VMO2 against their will,  national officer for VM02, Tracey Fussey, said:  “We recognise that this is an extremely unsettling time for members and strongly urge anyone impacted to contact their local CWU representative, who can advise and provide support through the consultation process.    

“We’ve been advised that there are many potential opportunities to remain with VMO2, as there are over 140 vacancies across O2 Retail, as well as opportunities in the wider business.  The CWU is hopeful that the increased level of homeworking over the past couple of years will also create opportunity for those in locations where VMO2 workplaces do not exist.

“The CWU will be seeking that the company does everything it can to mitigate against compulsory redundancies – and as part of that the union has today written to management with a number of counter-proposals including one allowing individuals who are not in scope, but who wish to leave the company, to  swap places with ‘at risk’ individuals who want to stay.”

CWU national team member with special responsibility for O2 stores, Angie Prangell, points out that such a scheme could be especially helpful in those situations where closing stores are located within reasonable travelling distance of a store that will remain open.

“At the moment that isn’t on the table, but it seems like a no-brainer to me,” she stresses.

Tracey concludes: “We’re extremely disappointed that the company has found it necessary to close these stores and absolutely recognise the impact this announcement has had on many of those impacted.

“Members can be assured we are focused on doing our absolute best to mitigate these redundancies and find solutions for individuals in what is a really challenging economic climate at the moment.”