Safeguarding jobs at VMO2 as major reorganisation places nearly 1,400 ‘at risk’

Telecoms & Financial Services, VMO2


Detailed talks are underway with VMO2 on behalf of 1,357 employees who’ve been placed ‘at risk’ of potential redundancy as a result of a massive site rationalisation and restructuring exercise.

News of the biggest programme of property closures and structural integration of the former Telefonica O2 and Virgin Media parts of the business since the VMO2 joint venture was launched in June 2021 was broken to understandably concerned employees at Hemel Hempstead and the Slough site this morning (Tuesday).

Yet despite the scale and scope of the reorganisation – and the fact that every single staff member at both sites has been told their job is potentially at risk – VMO2 has moved swiftly to reassure employees that it believes suitable alternative roles are available in alternative locations for everyone who wants them.

In keeping with the spirit of that pledge, VMO2 has promised an unprecedented level of consultation and dialogue with the CWU in the run up to the closure of the former O2 head office in Slough at the end of June – with the majority of those impacted by the unexpected lease-break decision currently scheduled to be redirected to Reading.

The timeline for consultation involving those based at the ‘Park Lane’ premises in Hemel Hempstead is even tighter. That closure will take place in just five weeks time – with impacted staff (former Virgin Media) currently earmarked for transfer to Flitwick in Bedfordshire, Peterborough or Birmingham from the next of next month.

Hugely challenging in themselves, the Slough and Hemel Hempstead site closures will be just the opening salvo of a wider shake-up of VMO2’s Greater London property portfolio – which will also see Liberty Global’s Hammersmith offices exited late next year.

Even more significantly, VMO2 has already confirmed its intent to consolidate all its London area offices into a single new headquarters hub in Paddington Basin, West London – which has a direct train link to Reading.

CWU national officer for VMO2, Tracey Fussey told CWU News: “It is very much to VMO2’s credit that the company is currently advising that, despite the scale of these upheavals, it does not believe a redundancy situation need necessarily exist.”

“Whilst we expected a review of VMO2’s property portfolio – including a new, more modern, purpose-built environment in London – our priority is to ensure job security for all our members through these changes.

“As such, the CWU is seeking more detail regarding the impact of the proposed relocations on individuals – particularly with regards to ensuring that travelling distances and times are reasonable.

“Although the company has confirmed its commitment to existing agreements around mobility and reasonability, we’re extremely keen to ensure that journeys are both reasonable and viable for the long-term.

“It’s self-evidently the case that, mile-for-mile, commutes within congestion-prone parts of  London  can take infinitely longer than they would elsewhere – especially if they need to be conducted by road,” explains Tracey.

“As such, this is one of a number of areas where individual consultation meetings need to be thorough and any concerns highlighted at the earliest opportunity.”

Tracey concludes: “This is a major property review, essentially putting over 1,000 employees ‘at risk’, but the fact that VMO2 has stated it is confident roles can be carried out at other locations – mitigating against redundancy – is great news and very encouraging.

“Throughout the forthcoming collective consultation CWU’s primary focus will be on ensuring that promised job security is, indeed, delivered – and that the transfer opportunities being offered to individuals are genuinely viable.”