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Positive meeting with Virgin Media O2 joint venture boss eases immediate anxieties

Early meeting with top boss as Virgin Media O2 joint venture launches

Friday 4th June 2021

The first meeting between the CWU and the newly formed telecoms giant that has come about as a result of the effective merger of Virgin Media Ltd and Telefónica UK has gone some way to ease immediate anxieties as to what the move will mean for the union’s Telefónica O2 membership.

On Tuesday this week – the very day the  Virgin Media O2 joint venture was formally launched with great pizzazz – CWU national officer for Telefónica O2,  Sally Bridge, met with the newly branded entity’s human resources and ‘transformation’ supremo – a meeting that that been requested by the union immediately after regulatory approval for the link-up was granted.

“Clearly there are a number of questions and assurances that the CWU has been seeking in relation to the job security and terms and conditions of our members, as well as the union’s future relationship with the company” Sally explains.

“I’m therefore pleased to report that, at a meeting with Virgin Media O2’s newly appointed Chief People and Transformation Officer, Philipp Wohland, assurances were given to the union that he is supportive of employee representation and wanted to continue to work positively with the CWU.”

That message was subsequently reinforced in a statement issued by Mr Wohland in which he pledged: “Employees will stay on their current terms and conditions. There will be no changes in the current arrangements with our Trade Unions and Employee Forums.”

Sally continues: “Mr Wohland has agreed to meet the CWU regularly for key business updates, open dialogue and to work with the union on any proposed transformation and integration proposals. The CWU warmly welcomes this statement, because it is naturally the case that any profound business developments of this nature cause unease and uncertainty for employees – especially before it becomes apparent as to what, if anything, is likely to change from their perspective.”

The new multi-media digital company that has been created by the joint venture combines Virgin’s fibre network with one of the UK’s leading mobile operators – both of which will trade under the new name. For the time being, at least, however they will continue to legally operate as two separate entities, with Lutz Schuler as the new CEO.

The CWU has had recognition in O2 from the company’s very inception as BT Cellnet, prior to MMO2’s divestment from BT in the early noughties and the subsequently renamed O2 brand being acquired by Telefónica in 2006.

Sally continues: “Considering what has gone before, it will mean a lot to the CWU’s longstanding and loyal O2 membership that the CWU has received such an early and positive meeting with Philipp Wohland.

“At that meeting the union stressed from the outset that we want to continue working with Virgin Media O2 in the same constructive way that we’ve always worked with Telefónica O2 in the past. – and at face value the initial indications are positive.

“Essentially this coming together of two major brands is about  two different products merging – not about one party taking out a direct competitor, so there’s no immediately obvious reason for the process of assimilation that inevitably takes place in those circumstances.

“As such, the CWU will be doing its utmost to forge a positive working relationship with a new senior management team – and we are heartened by our initial interaction with Mr Wohland that the company is looking to do the same.”

  • No information has yet been forthcoming about how the joint venture may impact on the union’s memberships in the Capita O2 partnership. Members will be updated as more details become available.

Posted: 7th June 2021

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