Bosses confirm 450 more job cuts at VMO2

Every possible way of avoiding compulsory redundancies is being forensically explored at VMO2 following the company’s announcement last Friday of its final round of organisational changes for 2023.

Ever since VMO2 revealed in July its intention to make up to 2,000 job cuts this year the  union has been striving, with some success, to challenge the need for compulsory job losses in the comparatively small number of areas within the union’s collective bargaining unit  that have been  identified for headcount reductions.

That effort to ensure that voluntarism takes centre stage in the company’s ongoing transformation programme is now being turbo-charged following last week’s news that a final tranche of around 450 role reductions across the business is now being sought.

While the CWU has been assured there will be a maximum of 62 redundancies across ex-O2 general population grades, the union is also representing the interests of a significant number of PSG-grade contact centre advisors at Preston Brook.

Individual help, advice and representation is also being offered to ‘at risk’ CWU members who fall outside of the scope of the union’s recognition agreement, including those within the ex-VM workforce where many members exist. Such members are urged to identify themselves to their local branches without delay, as VMO2 is only legally obliged to inform the union of proposals that impact on individuals within the recognised area.

Around 52 of the CWU-represented general grade population who have been placed at ‘at risk’ under the latest redundancy announcement are stores employees in seven O2 shops that are earmarked for closure following reviews of their trading profitability and lease expiry dates.

These comprise two stores in Belfast, two in London, and single sites in Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool.

CWU VMO2 national team member with special responsibility for stores members, Angie Prangell, told CWU News: “We’re currently seeking confirmation of any redeployment opportunities, but that’s clearly going to be difficult because if a store has say six or seven employees you’re very unlikely to have that many vacancies in a nearby one – and in the case of the two closing Belfast stores there’s only one other store in the city.

“Obviously members have the option of taking VR, or they can apply for other roles in the company, because you might have the odd person who wants a total career change or change of location – but that’s going to be few and far between.

“As such I’d urge any impacted members to contact us without delay, because we can attend meetings with them and help guide them through the process – including making sure that they’ve been made aware of the assistance that’s available in terms of help with writing and updating CVs and the search for external jobs.”

CWU national officer for the recognised parts of VMO2, Tracey Fussey, agrees – stressing that the CWU is also on hand to assist O2 Retentions members in Preston Brook through a review of working patterns that will see all Saturday attendances cease at that site.

“The local branch is already helping individuals who have flexible working arrangements in place that include Saturday working, and the company has assured the CWU that they aim to manage any individual concerns case-by-case,” she continues.

And commenting on the wider impact of last week’s announcement s Tracey adds:  “We will do our very best to seek solutions for anyone who has been placed ‘at risk’ – but the CWU national team is also acutely aware that there are many other anxious members in VMO2 who are not currently ‘in scope’, but who are still concerned about the future direction of the company and their ongoing job security.

“In December the National Team will be meeting with VMO2 to discuss the company’s plan for the next three years, and we’re hoping to gain clarity on the further direction of the company”.

“In the meantime, VMO2’s confirmation that it will not be announcing any further change this year is certainly welcome – as is the news that around 300 of the 1,800 roles that will have been removed from the company’s headcount by the year’s end have been achieved by cancelling vacancies and not backfilling roles.

“It’s also reassuring that VMO2 has now categorically confirmed that the ‘up to’ 2,000 role reduction figure it gave in July was an upper end estimate – giving rise to the hope that we may be entering  a more settled period ahead,” Tracey concludes.