Merger risks price rises and national security concerns over Three’s links to the Chinese state  

Unite, the UK’s leading union, will send a delegation to Vodafone’s annual general meeting in London on Tuesday (25 July) to challenge its ‘reckless merger’ with Three.

Unite will be highlighting likely price rises and national security concerns over the merger. Three’s owner CK Hutchison has close links with the Chinese state, while Vodafone holds a number of UK public sector contracts, including with the Ministry of Justice, the NHS and numerous police forces. 

Vodafone has avoided meeting with the union in advance of the AGM, so the Unite delegation will be raising these issues directly with management at the meeting.

Unite held a call with Vodafone analysts last week, including Berenberg, Citi, Deutsche Bank, UBS, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Cross Asset Research, ahead of the AGM. The union will also be engaging with investors before and after the meeting. 

Unite executive head of operations, Gail Cartmail, said: “Unite will continue to campaign against this reckless merger, using all the tools at our disposal to bring consumer and security concerns to the attention of the authorities. The UK could end up paying in more ways than one if this deal goes ahead.”

A growing cross-party coalition of MPs has raised concerns about the merger in and outside of parliament, including Conservative MPs David Davis and Iain Duncan Smith, SNP MP Martyn Day and Labour MPs Apsana Begum, Charlotte Nichols and Emma Hardy. 

Labour MPs Cat Smith and Nav Mishra have written to their local police forces raising concerns about the merger, while David Davis is pressing the Ministry of Justice on its Vodafone contract. 

The Hong Kong civil society group, HK Labour Rights Monitor, also has concerns about the merger. 

A spokesperson, who is not being named to avoid potential repercussions from the Chinese government, said: “We have concerns that the security and privacy of data from Vodafone UK subscribers will be potentially at risk should the proposed merger go through.  

“Telecommunication providers operating under authoritarian jurisdictions such as China and Hong Kong may be forced by authorities to compromise subscribers’ data privacy. We are adamant that all telecommunication providers in the UK should regard the protection of their subscribers’ data privacy as an utmost priority and avoid any unconsented transferral of data to third parties under all circumstances.”


For media enquires ONLY contact senior Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215 or 020 3371 2065. 

Email: [email protected]

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.