Virgin Media O2 is reportedly planning job cuts, joining its UK counterparts BT and Vodafone in reducing workforce size. The Mirror recently reported that anywhere between 800 and 2,000 jobs could face elimination, with an imminent pay rise for staff being rescheduled to August 1 in an effort to avoid including the pay hike in redundancy packages.

This development will disappoint staff who were previously led to believe that they would have the opportunity to transfer to a different department. In February, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) disclosed that discussions between itself and Virgin Media O2 were taking place regarding the future of 1,357 employees whose jobs were deemed ‘at risk’ for potential redundancy.

At the time, Virgin Media O2 was under the impression that suitable alternative roles were available for employees who desired them. However, this belief now seems to have been misguided, as anonymous sources suggest. A statement issued by Virgin Media O2 this week did not clarify the situation further:

“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 Virgin Media O2 spokesperson.

The proposed changes are part of the ongoing integration process between O2 and Virgin Media, which began in summer 2021 after receiving regulatory clearance for their £31 billion deal. The merged entity is expected to generate £6.2 billion in synergies after integration costs, according to a joint statement from Virgin and O2’s parent companies, Liberty Global and Telefónica. To achieve these efficiencies, real estate consolidation and eliminating overlapping roles are common methods employed in mergers, making the possibility of redundancies unsurprising.

Despite the high number of possible job cuts, Virgin Media O2’s redundancies remain lower than those of BT and Vodafone. As part of its long-term strategy, BT aims to cut up to 55,000 positions by fiscal 2028-30, while Vodafone will eliminate 11,000 jobs across Europe within three years under new CEO Margherita Della Valle’s turnaround plan. Additionally, if Vodafone successfully merges with Three, even more jobs could be at risk in pursuit of synergies.

Given these developments, a crucial question arises: where will these displaced telecommunications employees find new opportunities?